After Josie Saltarelli’s cat, Capone, went missing for a few days, it was her 13-year-old daughter who found him — directly across from the family’s driveway and cleaved neatly in two, as if to send a message.
“I don’t know how anyone could do that to an animal,” Saltarelli told a local TV news channel in Oklahoma. “The last image we have of him is cut in half and gutted. My 13-year-old daughter had to see that and that is our memory of him, and it’s awful.”
Capone had been with the family his entire life, for nine years, and was well-loved, his family and neighbors told local media. He was found on Aug. 20.
Police and a local veterinarian have ruled out another animal, due to the precision of Capone’s wounds and the fact that the cat was placed in front of their home.
Now there’s a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest, and police in Tulsa are treating the killing as a hate crime. They suspect the cat was killed because Saltarelli’s boyfriend is a police officer, and the family flies a “Thin Blue Line” flag in front of their home as a message of support for law enforcement. Like officers in many smaller jurisdictions, Saltarelli’s boyfriend also drives his patrol car home and parks it in his driveway.
“For that reason, investigators believe someone could be targeting the officer and his family,” the Tulsa Police Department wrote in a press release about the case.
The Oklahoma Alliance for Animals is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for killing Capone.
“It is well documented and proven that violence and abuse against animals leads to other major crimes,” the group wrote in a Facebook post about the killing, “including violence against children and elders. We need to find the person who did this.”