A retired NYPD detective has been assigned to the case of four kittens found with their throats slashed this week in Riverhead.
George Whalley, who left the force in August, once again pounded the pavement Friday in Riverhead with three other officers from the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which hired him about a month ago.
For him, the case is not unlike solving a New York City homicide or busting a drug deal. He and the SPCA officers went door to door Friday to post wanted fliers for the kitten slasher and give out their contact information. They've also searched for DNA evidence at the crime scene and requested surveillance video.
"You have a body, in this case cats instead of people, and you have no witnesses or people who are unwilling to speak for whatever reason," said Whalley, who retired from the 103rd Precinct in Jamaica, Queens, after 20 years.
The kittens were likely flung over the fence of the Riverhead Brake Service rear yard some time between 5 p.m. Monday and 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, the SPCA said.
No larger than a human hand, they appeared to be 3 weeks old and were almost identical, with black stripes over gray and white fur.
When a brake service worker found them Tuesday morning in the parking yard, he thought they were rags -- but they had small puddles of blood under their heads, said Francis Bujnicki, co-owner of the business.
SPCA chief Roy Gross said Bujnicki chipped in $200 Friday for an SPCA reward to help find the kitten slasher, making the total reward $1,200.
When the agency's officers asked Friday for permission to post fliers in stores, no one said no and people were "outraged," Gross said.
Merchants told them "You put it anywhere you want to put it," he recounted, and others ran up to get copies to spread around.
Whalley said he isn't used to this reception. On his homicide cases in New York City, he said, it was often a bad guy killing another bad guy, so not many people cared or they were too scared to talk.
In the Riverhead case, the victims were young and struck a chord in people because of how society views certain animals, Whalley said: "A lot of people have pets and they treat their pets like children."
He said people should think of someone whose cat had kittens and now can't explain where the kittens are. It might be someone who's laughing over the deaths, he said, or someone who's posted a joke on social media.
Gross emphasized the importance to society of finding the kitten slasher and other animal abusers: "Most people who hurt animals hurt people."
Next week, investigators will pore over the surveillance.
If there's enough evidence, Whalley said, the case will be presented to the Suffolk District Attorney's office.
Said Whalley: "I have nothing but time."
Anyone with information may call the SPCA at 631-382-7722. Calls will remain confidential.