18-Year Old Arrested In Florida Cat Mutilations

A South Florida teenager was arrested early Sunday and accused of killing and mutilating the cats of his neighbors — a disturbing string of deaths that has horrified residents and shaken animal lovers in two Miami-area communities.

Tyler Hayes Weinman, 18, was taken into custody at a party, police said. He was still being questioned at Miami-Dade police headquarters while authorities praised the arrest at a press conference Sunday morning.

"I understand that pet owners feel very strongly about their little family members," Miami-Dade County Commissioner Katy Sorenson said. "Animals bring happiness and comfort to our lives. So, to see them so violated and mutilated just defies all common sense and it's painful for everyone involved. Thankfully, for this community, the terror has come to an end."

Weinman was charged with 19 felony counts of animal cruelty, 19 misdemeanor counts of improperly disposing of an animal body and four felony counts of burglary related to the cat deaths. It is unclear if he has an attorney. Messages left at phone numbers for his parents were not immediately returned and no one answered the door at his home.

"I hope it's not true," said 77-year-old Robert Ehrman, who lives across the street from Weinman and called his mother a "lovely person," but said he didn't know the teen well. "It's like a death in the family, I'm sure."

Jail officials said a court date has been set for July.

In the past month, residents in the Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay neighborhoods have reported finding more than two dozen cats killed and mutilated. Some of the dead cats were missing fur — neighbors said some had been skinned — and appeared to have been cut with a sharp, straight instrument, police said.

"It's shocking to think that someone who lives right here and is our neighbor could do something like this," said Thomas Shad, whose small black cat, Miss Kitty, was among those killed.

Shad, whose house is near Weinman's, said he had suspected a local resident might be behind the killings, which were first reported in May. Police said they investigated more than 30 cat deaths — some of them likely caused by dogs — and received hundreds of tips from concerned citizens.

"This is so important to our community," Miami-Dade Police Department Maj. Julie Miller said of the arrest. "So many lives have been affected — children, adults, citizens who didn't even have animals affected."

Miller said the investigation is still open and additional arrests might be forthcoming, but she declined to name other suspects. Police said they have been watching the house where Weinman stays with his mother, and neighbors said he was taken to the police station for an interview on his prom night a few weeks ago. Weinman was still wearing a tuxedo when officers whisked him away that night, they said, and he missed the dance.

"If they do get the wrong guy and it's not him, they've ruined his life as it is right now," said 19-year-old Kyle Hantzis, who lives next door to Weinman.

Hantzis, who said his father dates Weinman's mother, called the teenager quiet and well-spoken. Authorities said Weinman was spending his summer doing odd jobs, and an online profile on Facebook.com says that he graduated from Miami Palmetto Senior High this spring. By Sunday afternoon, there was already a group on the popular social networking Web site which listed its name in all capital letters as "Tyler Weinman Cat Mutilator! Justice For Miami Cat Mutilations!"

Police said Weinman was twice arrested as a juvenile, though they said they could not provide details about his previous run-ins with the law.

Hantzis said he had a hard time picturing the teen as a serial cat killer.

"I don't think, the way he acts and his demeanor, I don't think he could physically do it."

Four of the confirmed cat killings were reported on the street where Weinman lived in a beige-colored house with a bright red door. For the Shads, his arrest brought a sense of relief to their quiet suburban neighborhood that they haven't felt since Miss Kitty's body was found in the grassy yard of an abandoned house.

"I felt that I could rest. I was at peace with what was happening," said Mary Lou Shad, who said she cried while she watched the televised press conference on Sunday. "Hopefully he gets what he deserves."

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  • by mcj on Jun 16, 2009 at 08:30 AM
    Ruby & Dwayne, I have as much of a right not to like kids as you sure do not to like cats. I eat meat and wear leather, and am not some PETA nutjob. I just have more respect for those who can't speak in languages we can't understand than people. People suck. Look at how much harm we cause to one another. I don't like kids, Ruby doesn't like cats, but this kid is messed up in the head. Stop with the overconservative drama.
  • by MrT Location: LaNC on Jun 15, 2009 at 06:14 PM
    What really should happen to this little punk, IF FOUND GUILTY, is that he should be hung up by his ankles, and SLOWLY lowered into a cage of hungry lions or tigers. Now that would be justice.
  • by Ruby Location: Greenville on Jun 15, 2009 at 04:27 PM
    Some of these comments prove how distorted human thinking has become in this country. It's okay to kill a living baby in the womb just because there's a law that legalizes abortion but go kill a cat and you deserve an eye for an eye? You have got to be kidding! They're cats for crying out loud. Animal rights mess has gone too far when people worry about cats/dogs over a human being. What should be the concern is that behavior like this does usually lead to similar actions towards humans.
  • by Geez on Jun 15, 2009 at 01:21 PM
    Isn't it "almost" always the quiet, unassuming person who does these things?
  • by Ted Location: Greenville on Jun 15, 2009 at 11:45 AM
    I'm sure he was just attending the same taxidermy school as the guy in Wayne County.
  • by Dwayne Location: Greenville on Jun 15, 2009 at 10:31 AM
    mcj, too many, way too many Pixar movies. Now just put that Ribeye down and go apologize to that cow's mother. I do indeed agree that this young man appears disturbed.
  • by mcj on Jun 15, 2009 at 09:16 AM
    dwayne, animals deserve as much respect as humans. row v. wade is still legal in this country, last i checked. i hope this suck individual who is devoid of any human compassion gets what he deserves in prison... studies show that most serial killers start off with animals...good thing we got one freako off the streets before he could hurt a person.
  • by Dwayne Location: Greenville on Jun 15, 2009 at 08:12 AM
    The 18 year old peers thru the jail bars for his cat killing crime as the abortionist flies away in his jet. Liberal minds amock in America.
  • by Kathy Location: Washington on Jun 15, 2009 at 06:00 AM
    Exactly right. This kind of mutilation has been prevalent in many serial killer's lives. This is a very deep-seeded psychological amd sociopathic tendency. He built up to this. This only escalates. He should be put in a psychiatric facility for a very long time. I've been in this business for a long time and I have NEVER seen anybody be rehabilitated from doing something like this.
  • by C on Jun 15, 2009 at 03:50 AM
    So the poor baby missed his prom ? Pardon me while I go cry for him. Did'nt a lot of serial killers start out this way ?
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