- Associated Press - Saturday, April 26, 2014

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) - Lakeland police believe someone is mutilating cats in a neighborhood on the city’s south side.

At least two cats were mutilated and a third dead cat could be part of the same trend, police spokesman Gary Gross told The Ledger (http://bit.ly/1lT6cDg ).

Mary Spake reported the front portion of a cat was found in her yard on Easton Drive. The animal was cut cleanly behind its front two legs and through the spine. Spake said five neighbors have said their cats have gone missing in the last six weeks.

“God forbid somebody is doing this,” Spake said. “My concern is that lately everyone (in the neighborhood) has been talking about having missing cats.”

The first killing was reported by David Dewitt in March when he found his cat torn in half in the front yard of his Newport Avenue residence. His other two cats remain missing.

Another cat was reportedly found with a grapefruit-sized hole in its side on Brook Lane near Hollingsworth Drive.

“This is bizarre and sadistic,” Gross said. “This is how serial killers start.”

Gross recommended residents keep their pets inside. Police asked anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 800-226-8477 or the Lakeland Police Department 863-834-6900.

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