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'The evidence is pretty compelling': Owner of cat killed in Longmont disappointed after no arrests were made

After a six-month investigation, Longmont PD and the 20th Judicial District Attorney’s Office determined there was not enough evidence to file charges. The owner is still seeking justice.
Basil the cat killed in longmont
Posted at 5:45 PM, Apr 24, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-25 10:59:56-04

LONGMONT, Colo. — When Denver7 first shared Holly Mathews’ story last September, she was still reeling from finding one of her cats, Basil, shot and stuffed in a bag.

The cat’s GPS collar led them straight to the scene.

“She’s traveling in what looks like a car, looking at the speed she’s moving down the road,” Matthews described seeing the data from her cat’s GPS collar traveling straight down a road in Longmont.

The owners hopped in a car that night and followed the live GPS feed down the road until it stopped in the Saint Vrain Creek.

“He pulled her out of a trash bag. Her body, at that point, was still warm,” Matthews said of the moment her boyfriend found Basil’s body after they started searching the creek bed.

After six months of investigating, the Longmont Police Department closed the case with no arrests. It’s an unsatisfying ending for the cat’s owner who believes the case points to a possible suspect.

“The evidence is pretty compelling,” said Matthews.

The GPS data shows that right before the cat appeared to be driven to the creek, it was at one specific property for four hours straight.

The Longmont Police report shows moments after GPS showed the cat was dumped in the creek, traffic cameras caught a truck driving through an intersection a few blocks away.

The police report notes the truck is very similar to the one belonging to the owner of the property that GPS showed Basil was at that afternoon. Because police have not filed any criminal charges, Denver7 will not be identifying that person or their address.

Body camera video shows the moments a Longmont police officer (a different officer than the lead investigator in the case) questions the owner of that property. The person is heard telling the officer that they do own the property, but they don’t live there.

The officer asks about the truck caught on camera at the intersection near the crime scene.

“Right around the time, is that your truck? It looks like it huh?” “I think, yea,” said the person.

“Right around the time that the people who own the cat, because they track their cat, down to the river, your car, your truck was seen going through the intersection,” said the officer.

The person responds saying they drive that truck around for work all the time.

“Is it only you who drives the truck or does anybody else drive it?,” the officer eventually asks.

“I’m the only one who drives that truck,” the person said.

“OK, no kids or anybody like that, grandkids or anybody?” said the officer.

“Nope,” the person replied.

Basil’s owner applauds Longmont police for building the case they did, but feels like more could have been done to possibly charge someone with a crime.

“There is a tremendous amount of circumstantial evidence,” said Matthews.

Basil the cat killed in longmont

Local News

Owners track cat taken from neighborhood, found it dead and dumped in river

Danielle Kreutter
10:35 AM, Sep 03, 2023

The Longmont Police Department sent all the evidence they collected to the 20th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for review.

“Animal cruelty cases tend to be very difficult from the start, because, obviously, even if the animal survives, the animal cannot explain to you what has happened or give you an account. So you’re already dealing with a circumstantial case,” explained District Attorney Michael Dougherty.

Basil’s case, like other animal abuse cases without witnesses, can be very challenging to end in an arrest. Investigators said the type of evidence collected is what can push a case across the line.

“Officer Carter (the investigating officer in this case) put in a ton of work on this. Just getting the search warrant for phone records and some of the data around that takes time. There’s a lot of data that has to be compiled and worked through,” said Longmont Police Chief Jeffrey Satur. “We can’t just go on our gut, we can’t. We have to have probable cause. We have to have enough information to potentially take this to trial and we’re not there.”

The chief pointed out that the investigation included cell phone data that did not place the property owner at the creek that night. The department adds there is never a situation where killing a cat is an acceptable response to a stray cat being on your property.

The DA agreed that there’s just not enough evidence.

“The family of the animal that was killed probably thinks to themselves, ‘We know who did it’ and they might be right. But we have to be able to prove it. We have to have evidence that that person was the one and only person with access to the animal and the animal was killed. So, it’s an absolute tragedy and if we learn of new evidence, we would definitely bring charges,” said Doughtery.

The DA said they have and absolutely would prosecute anyone who is suspected of animal abuse if there was enough evidence to call for that.

“Our laws reflect who we are as a people and who we want to be as a society. Part of that, in this situation, is that we want our animals to be protected, that we love them, that we recognize that they don't have a voice and sometimes they actually are more vulnerable than people might be, and that we should do everything we can under the law to hold those who violate them responsible,” he said.

Matthew acknowledges there may be some people who may not support so many resources dedicated to the investigation of one dead cat, but she is hoping, one day, for the arrest of the person who killed Basil.

“I think drawing a hard line in the sand and saying, 'We as a society are not okay with this. We are not okay with someone being inconvenienced by us and taking something from us that is ultimately ending in death, no matter what kind of life it is, is okay,'” said Matthews. "It really peels back humanity. It exposes a level of cruelty that I think none of us should be okay with."

The GPS data shows the shooting likely happened just after 9 p.m. on August 27, 2023. The tracker left the neighborhood and was traveling southbound on Martin St. before traveling down East County Line Rd., making a quick stop at the St. Vrain Greenway parking area, then a final stop at the bridge over St. Vrain Creek, just south of E. County Ln. and Zlaten Dr.

If you have any information about this case, reach out to the Longmont Police Department at 303-651-8555 and reference report number #23-7880.

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