Please help us petition the Lewis and Clark County Attorney to make sure these men are prosecuted to the fullest! This is such a sad and horrific story. I drive around and see flyers all over of people missing their cats...and I wonder how many were tortured to death by these sick individuals.
This story appeared in the Helena Independent Record, last Friday, September 5th, 2008. This is beyond disturbing, and we want to be sure that this case isn't plea bargained down to the usual slap on the wrist. ~
Three arrested for allegedly killing cats
Independent Record - 09/05/08
Authorities have arrested three Helena men for allegedly torturing and killing about 20 cats, including three that were burned alive. Brandon Wayne Hartford, 26, Andrew Joseph Welch, 20, and Kyle K.Hallowell, 19, each faces a felony charge of aggravated animal cruelty for "burning, stabbing, beating, slaughtering and torturing" the cats,which they hunted in several locations in Helena, East Helena and the Helena Valley, according to documents filed Thursday in Justice Court.
Hartford and Welch, who are both being held in lieu of a $25,000 bond, were taken into custody Wednesday. Hallowell was arrested Thursday morning and his bond will be set today.
According to Lewis and Clark County detectives Larry Platts and Cory Olson, who investigated the killings along with Det. Dennis Nyland, the three men drove around neighborhoods during the night, stalking and hunting stray and pet cats.
The men told investigators that they had killed between 16 and 24 cats.
Investigators said there is no evidence that could identify where the animals came from.
When they located a cat, the men would lure the animal into their car and take it to one of several locations, which included construction sites, wooded areas and the house on the 2800 block of Winslow Avenue where the men have been living.
"These are inhumane acts of cruelty," Sheriff Leo Dutton said. "It shocks the conscience."
The detectives said the men have been killing the animals for at least the past two months.
The alleged crimes apparently began with the men's joint dislike of cats, Platts said. Hartford allegedly started the spree by beating to death a cat that scratched him when he picked it up, Olson said.
The investigation of the men stemmed from witness statements during the investigation of an unrelated report of disorderly conduct earlier in the week, Dutton said.
Officials declined to give more information about that incident because it is still under investigation.
"I am shocked how someone can treat an animal with no way of protecting itself this way and get some gratification from it," Dutton added.
In addition to the cruelty charges, Hartford and Welch both face a felony charge of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence for removing evidence from the crime scene on Winslow Avenue and using bleach in an attempt to clean up blood stains.
Hallowell also was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of obstructing a peace officer.
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