Sheriff turns animal mutilation case into criminal investigation

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott has turned the case of several animals being mutilated in Spring Valley into a criminal investigation.

What happened has kept Donna Draughn awake for weeks and on alert for her cat Angel. Her two outdoor kittens, Tootsie and Lightning, were killed. One of them was beheaded.

Neighborhood security said it was a clean cut and it happened at the hands of a human.

After hearing Draughn's story, Lott was immediately shocked by the brazenness of the crime. So he's asked his criminal animal investigator Holley Wagner to get in on it. In the ten years she's been working animal cases, Wagner says this is a first.

"You have a dog that's been beheaded and skinned and nailed to a tree in a vacant lot and you've got cats that've had their heads cut off and paws cut off -- that's not a prank," Wagner said.

Wagner says she's got a few ideas on the identity of her culprit.

"I think it's probably a kid, a very troubled person and if it doesn't get addressed and we don't do something about it, these are the kind of people who grow up and end up killing people.  It's the next step," Wagner said.

The next step for her is to gather information, but Wagner says most of the physical evidence is gone.

Wagner says this will be a felony case, and she's hoping to protect the other four-legged pets in the area and their owners from anymore nightmares on their street.

Investigators are hoping people realize if you witness or hear about animal cruelty, call them or call 911 directly because it's often a felony.

Copyright 2012 WIS. All rights reserved.