Wednesday morning, police found at least 25 dead cats hanging from a tree in an abandoned lot in Yonkers, New York. The cats, most of which were stuffed in plastic bags, were arranged ritualistically throughout the tree, according to Vocativ.
"They were placed in small shopping bags, the plastic bags that you might get from an A&P or a ShopRite, and then they were hung from a tree," Ernie Lungaro, director of humane law enforcement at SPCA, told Vocativ. "Some were severely decomposed. We got a couple that were still fresh, within the last few weeks maybe. But we're transporting them and are going to have some necropsies done. We'll know more then."
Employees from the Department of Public Works discovered the horrific scene at about 10 a.m. after arriving to work on the abandoned lot, which is just 10 minutes from the Yonkers Amtrak stop and close to several shops and restaurants. Authorities aren't sure why the strong odor didn't attract attention earlier.
"It's very strange. There's a house next door and there are residences across the street. It's a well-travelled little vacant lot," SPCA's executive director, Shannon Laukhuf said. "There's a path that runs down to the businesses. Clearly, people have walked that path pretty often. It's hard to believe that someone didn't notice something. The smell of decomposition is overwhelming."
While this isn't the first time a large number dead cats have been found in Yonkers—-last year, 22 cats were poisoned in the area— Laukhuf cautioned it's too early to tell if the cases are related.
"We've never really seen anything like this," she said. "What's so disturbing is the way the cats were hung in bags and arranged. This is obviously the work of someone very deranged."
UPDATE 12:41 pm: From Vocativ:
According to the SPCA of Westchester, necropsies performed last night on three feline victims reveal the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head, with no evidence of poison. Bats, shovels and other heavy instruments were also found near the corpses.
UPDATE 4:40 pm: Investigators believe the number of cats is closer to 25.
[Image via Vocativ]