YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- About 25 dead cats found in plastic bags hanging from trees in Yonkers were apparently killed with blows to the head at various times over the past year, an investigator said Friday.
Ernest Lungaro, director of enforcement at the Westchester County SPCA, said necropsies on three of the cats revealed blunt trauma to their skulls.
"Pretty disturbing, smashing their heads in and displaying them like that,'' he said. "We have found, in the past, cases where cats were poisoned, but we've never seen anything where they're killing them this violently.''
Authorities said the dead cats, which were in various stages of decomposition, were found in a wooded area off Overlook Terrace Thursday morning.
"Some of the bodies were already fully decomposed, it was just like skeletons," Lungaro told 1010 WINS. "Some of the cats that were discovered were actually probably deceased within the last three days."
Lungaro said a baseball bat, two shovels and a metal pipe were found near the scene. He said investigators were not yet sure that those items had been used in the killings.
It also wasn't known if the killings were the work of one or more people, he said. Either way, they are disturbing because of studies that indicate a link between the killings of animals and violence against people, Lungaro said.
"The sheer number of cats that were killed with blunt trauma to the head, it's pretty violent,'' he said.
He said the necropsies suggest the cats were killed before they were put into bags.
The strange scene was discovered by a public works crew doing an annual cleanup. The SPCA was called in and counted 25 bodies, Lungaro said.
"We assume there were probably more than that because raccoons or whatever wildlife probably got to a couple of them,'' he said.
Lungaro said there has been some tension in the neighborhood over feeding stations some residents set up for a large population of feral cats.
"There are feral cats that are on that block, there are some of the residents that do feed the cats and unfortunately, there are people who get frustrated when they see a lot of cats and that could be one of the reasons, one of the motives," he told WCBS 880.
Lungaro cautioned, however, that investigators had not yet established that the dead cats were feral. There has been no string of missing pets, he said, but "we are starting to get calls from people whose pets were lost.''
Alley Cat Allies said it is offering a $750 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible in the case.
"This is a disturbing and horrific case of animal cruelty and we need to find whoever is responsible," Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies, said in a statement. "Intentionally killing a cat -- pet, stray or feral -- is against the law in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. We are hopeful that authorities will take this seriously and we offer our full support throughout the investigation."
Anyone with information is asked to call Yonkers police at 914-377-7724 or the SPCA's Animal Cruelty Hotline at 914-941-7797.
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