Chris and Kimberly Elliott woke up last Friday morning to a nightmare: the front quarter of their beloved cat Moe, placed conspicuously on their yard, so it would be the first thing they'd see when they opened the front door.
A blood trail was visible from a pool under a streetlight to the remains on the lawn.
"Our yard was a crime scene," Chris told the Houston Press. The Elliotts' cat had just become the latest victim in a string of grisly cat mutilations in the Timbergrove and Lazybrook subdivisions west of the Heights.
"Our cat was sliced in half with what I imagine had to be a machete or...a sword of some kind," Chris said. The cut was too clean to be the result of an animal attack, he said.
Kimberly rescued the white-haired Moe from a lumberyard in her native Louisiana, where he'd become trapped nine years ago, and he'd been by her side ever since. A personable cat, Moe was so friendly that all the killer would have had to do is call him -- Moe would've come.
"My heart's never been broken so bad," Kimberly said. "You just wake up, and you realize you're in a horror movie."
At least 25 cats have been killed and mutilated in the area since 2008, according to Lazybrook resident Jennifer Estopinal, who launched a Facebook page to spread awareness.
In addition to a $9,690 Crime Stoppers reward and a $10,000 reward announced by a resident whose cat was recently killed, Oak Forest Veterinary Hospital has just announced a $2,500 reward leading to an arrest and conviction.
The animal hospital became aware of the killings soon after they started. Representative Tyler Moore told us that a dead cat brought to them in 2008 had been partially skinned, and its ribs had been "cut with some kind of tool." A vet also noted the body had "a relatively bloodless appearance to the fur and abdomen, given the extent of muscle injury."
The Elliots said they authorized Houston police and BARC officials to send the remains to Texas A&M for a thorough examination. In the meantime, they are hoping that someone out there knows something.
"The worst part is that somebody got satisfaction out of doing that - that's the sickest part of it," Chris said.
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The last time they saw Moe, when they headed out to a Dynamo game Oct. 16, he'd been sleeping peacefully. That's the image they'd prefer to keep; not what they woke up to the following morning. They hadn't heard anything that night -- that's why they think the incident had to have occurred quickly.
This is an especially hard thing for pet owners to hear. But we're guessing that every resident in the area can't be too thrilled about the idea of some sicko with a sharp knife and personality disorder kicking around their hood in the wee hours. That's downright terrifying.
As Kimberly said, "What is he going to graduate to next? It's frightening that someone like this is out there, roaming around with a large weapon at night."
Anyone with information on these killings is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS or text TIP610 to CRIMES (274637). You can also report any tips to the Houston Police Department at 713-308-3100.