A man arrested Thursday on suspicion of animal cruelty after the gruesome death of a neighborhood cat will not be charged with a crime, according to the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.
Kyle B. Burke, 24, of Puyallup, was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty at 7:44 p.m. Thursday in the 100 block of Virginia Drive in Centralia on suspicion of animal cruelty after police received a report that a man stabbed a cat with a knife.
However, after reviewing the case, the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office believes a different person could be to blame for the animal’s significant injuries.
“What happened to this animal was deplorable, inhumane, and without justification. Nevertheless, I cannot charge Mr. Burke with causing these harms without solid evidence that he is the individual who caused them,” wrote Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Nelson in a letter to the Centralia Police Department Friday.
Nelson wrote that the most reliable witnesses in the case were three juvenile females, who reported that Burke “at least wanted to kill the cat, presumably with a knife.”
However, the girls all told investigators that another juvenile girl inflicted the majority of the cat’s injuries before Burke arrived on the scene, Nelson wrote.
“It sounded as though the cat had been tortured prior to the stabbing,” said Detective Patty Finch, of the Centralia Police Department.
The cat was “squeezed,” had been thrown or dropped from a second-story balcony at least twice, and had a stone thrown at or dropped on its head, according to Nelson.
“The accounts vary as to who caused these injuries to the cat, but none of the accounts point to Mr. Burke,” Nelson wrote.
By the time Burke arrived, the cat was motionless on the ground, he added.
If Burke did kill the cat, Nelson wrote that the most reliable accounts of the incident suggest that Burke ended the cat’s life after another person caused its injuries.
Finch said the animal was a neighborhood cat, and wasn’t tied to Burke in particular.
“It was just a cat that roamed around the apartment complex,” she said.
When officers arrived, the cat was covered in blood, and officers had trouble determining if there was, in fact, a stab wound on the animal, Finch said.
Further complicating the case, the cat’s body was not collected as evidence, Nelson wrote.
“I have the summary of the brief examination done by the on-scene officer, but he found no obvious wounds, just blood,” he wrote. “Without the body, I would be unable to show how the animal died. Any effort to recover the body now would be fruitless because it could have been tampered with since the incident occurred.”