Folly Beach police have identified a person of interest in the case of a family cat that was brutally slain this month.
Judy, an 8-year-old feline, went missing on Mother’s Day, May 13, and was found dead two days later under a vacant house at 107 East Cooper Ave., where authorities found evidence that someone may have been living.
An autopsy showed that the cat was stabbed, strangled and then — still alive — impaled on a piece of rebar sticking out of a cinder block at the base of the house, said Ginger Genesse, who co-owned the cat with Michael Riffert, innkeeper of Beachside Bed and Breakfast.
He and Genesse, manager of the inn, are neighbors who live near the bed and breakfast. The vacant house is behind the inn’s office.
Judy spent her days roaming the property, making friends with guests, many of whom mentioned her when signing the guest book, Genesse said.
“Judy was adopted by my wife and then Judy adopted Ginger,” Riffert said. “She kind of had her little 100-foot circle that she traveled and that was it.”
Folly Beach Director of Public Safety Dennis Brown said the department has identified a person of interest, who was arrested May 16 on an unrelated incident.
“We believe this person may have additional information which could benefit the investigation,” he wrote in an email. “We hope someone will come forward and assist us in this investigation.”
He said clothing and DNA samples from the suspect and evidence from the scene where Judy was found were sent to the State Law Enforcement Division in Columbia for testing.
Pet Helpers has offered the $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, and founder and Folly resident Carol Linville said she is “willing to take it higher.” Animal cruelty is a felony punishable by five years in prison or a $5,000 fine, according to Linville.
“This is a very dangerous person, and no animal is safe as long as he is on the streets of any community,” she said. “This guy really does scare me to death.”
Riffert said he also was disturbed by the killing.
“This was not an accident or anything like that,” he said. “She was literally killed. The first thing that came to my mind was, we have a very sick individual that is roaming this beach right now and sleeping under an abandoned house that should have been torn down.”