YONKERS, N.Y. -- Westchester SPCA Executive Director Shannon Laukhuf described the scene she saw at a mass cat graveyard found in Yonkers on Thursday, April 24 as "unfathomable."
The dead cats and kittens were found by Yonkers DPW workers in various stages of decomposition, tied in garbage bags and hung to a tree in wooded area just off 14 Overlook Terrace.
Subsequent necropsies performed on three of the 25 cats ruled that the cats had all died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head, implicating a deliberate mass murder.
Laukhuf, who has served as executive director for seven years, said while she's seen a lot of animal cruelty in her tenure, she hasn't seen anything quite like this.
"This is the work of someone very depraved. The way these poor cats were displayed on this tree is unfathomable," she said.
The Westchester SPCA, which works hand-in-hand with local police to investigate matters of animal cruelty, has assigned two full time officers to the investigation of this crime.
"We are going to get to the bottom of this," she said, "It's disturbing everyone."
The crime scene was not far away from residential apartment buildings, and could arguably be described as within the line of sight of windows and passersby.
If they didn't see it, they probably could have smelled it.
"In my opinion, it smelled really bad," Laukhuf said. "It was hard to imagine how neighbors didn't notice, but I guess, from what I understand, it looked like regular garbage."
Ernie Lungaro, who was the first SPCA official to respond to the scene, says he could understand how people may not have noticed.
"This lot, normally, has a lot of garbage, debris and trash. It's always filled with a lot of litter," he said. "In everybody's defense, while it can maybe be seen from the street, you really had to get into the woods to smell a little bit. The stench was not as bad as you would think for 25 cats."
National and local organizations have offered reward money to anyone who has any information about who might be behind the killings.
According to Laukhuf, the Humane Society of the United States Animal Defense League has offered a $5,000 reward. Additionally, Alley Cat Allies is offering a $750 reward.
Laukhuf said while they've received many calls with various theories and volunteer offers, the SPCA runs on donations, which are always appreciated.
"We're a not-for-profit, and we always need help to fund these investigations," she said.
Anyone with information about the cats is asked to call the Yonkers Police Department detectives' division at 914-377-7724, or the SPCA of Westchester confidential hotline at 914-941-7797.