Mesa Cat-Mutilation Case Fell Apart Because Stolen Cat and Dead Cat Were Different Cats
Mesa police Sergeant Tony Landato tells New Times investigators discovered that the cat stolen from outside a woman's home was not the same cat that was found slaughtered and mutilated behind a strip mall.
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Despite the fact that the evidence collected didn't help Graham's cause, Landato explained that the case was built on circumstantial evidence to begin with when it was forwarded to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office for review.
Graham was caught on a video-surveillance camera taking a cat from the top of the cat-owner's car near Guadalupe Road and Alma School Road about a month ago, according to court documents previously obtained by New Times. Three cats were later found dead and mutilated, and one of those cats was believed to be the one Graham allegedly stole.
Police found Graham's clothing, gloves, and car floor mats in his garage, "covered" in cat hair -- despite the fact that he doesn't own a cat -- and a probable-cause statement said that the trunk to Graham's car had a dead cat smell and apparent blood stains. Graham's excuse was that "several" cats snuck into his car one night and brawled in the trunk.
Graham eventually told investigators that he actively sought out cats around his neighborhood, successfully snatching up between 30 and 40, but denied killing them, instead claiming that he "played" with the cats before dropping them off in random locations.
That information was all forwarded to the county attorney's office, but police began to question whether the dead cat was actually the cat stolen from outside the woman's home.
After eventually reviewing crime-scene photos with the woman, police and the woman eventually concluded it wasn't her cat.
On top of that, despite the fact that detectives got word that many neighbors missing their cats, a lot of those people never actually reported that to police.
Mesa police provided this update to the county attorney's office, and they reviewed what was left of the case. Now, Graham will be facing a simply theft charge in municipal court.
"We had to make the responsible decision," Landato says, referring to the decision to recommend just the theft charge.
An earlier statement from the Mesa Police Department says "[a]ny additional or future charges are unlikely" unless investigators get any more evidence to continue the case.