GOSHEN TWP., Ohio (Cincinnati Enquirer) - One of two men charged with animal cruelty in the death of at least seven cats told police that his boss at a home for mentally disabled people wanted him to get rid of strays there.
Police said Keegan L. Carney, 21, trapped at least four cats near the Mellon Ridge care center in Clermont County.
After taking the cats to his family's farm, Carney allegedly shot them, skinned them for their fur and then fed the remains to his dogs, police said.
"About two months ago, my manager at Mellon Ridge said yes when I asked her if she still wanted me to get rid of the stray cats at work," Carney, an aide who oversees residents at the care center, said in a statement to Goshen police after being arrested April 6.
"I have a hobby of trying to make my own furs out of vermin hide," Carney said of why he skinned the cats.
Brenda Cain, manager of Mellon Ridge since it opened in 1994, said she had no idea the cats would be harmed. "I don't want them to be killed," she said. "It's absolutely the most bizarre thing I've ever heard of."
Carney approached her about the cats and told her he would take them to the farm, where they would be released to catch mice, Cain said.
"I was sick," Cain said when she learned from police what happened to the cats. "I couldn't even eat supper that night."
Carney, who has worked at the care center for nearly 18 months, passed a criminal background check and has never caused problems, Cain said.
"He seemed to be "just the nicest guy in the world," Cain said. "You would never dream of him doing something like that."
Carney told police it wasn't the first time he had killed cats. "I have shot cats at home that I didn't want because they get on my nerves when they're fighting with each other, begging for food and other annoying things."
None of the cats Carney trapped at the care center belonged to residents, who are mentally disabled, said Capt. Bob Rose of the Goshen Township Police Department.
People sometimes abandon cats outside the care center, but she doesn't know why, Cain said. "They're dropping off three or four at a time," she said. "We just can't take care of all of them."
James P. Combs II, 23, of Hamilton Township in Warren County also was charged with three counts of animal cruelty in the case, as well as three counts of discharging a gun near residential areas.
Combs "confessed to killing three cats on three separate occasions using a .22-caliber rifle," Rose wrote in a police report. "He also trapped cats and took them home to kill. He had purchased an aluminum T-ball bat to use to kill cats."
In a statement to police, Combs said: "I thought it would be helpful to get rid of pesky cats at the Goshen Kroger and Country Lake (Apartments on Ohio 28)."
He told police he put the carcasses of cats he shot at those two spots under parked cars so it would look like they had been run over.
Combs is to be arraigned April 22. A date hasn't been scheduled for Carney, who faces four counts of animal cruelty.
Barrett J. Brunsman, Cincinnati Enquirer