Man accused of killing cats faces additional charges after more found

Edmund Cunningham (Photo: Butler County Sheriff's Office)
Edmund Cunningham (Photo: Butler County Sheriff's Office)
Updated: Oct. 4, 2018 at 4:46 PM EDT
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HAMILTON, OH (FOX19) - A Middletown man who police say admitted to killing several cats found in his freezer faces additional charges after more cats were found.

A Butler County grand jury on Wednesday returned 14 counts of cruelty to a companion animal on Edmund Cunningham.

Initially, Middletown officers located eight dead cats and kittens in his freezer when he consented to a search at his Roosevelt Boulevard apartment.

“There was a block of ice in the freezer and when it was finally thawed out, there were six additional cats in the ice,” Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser said Thursday.

Police responded to Cunningham’s apartment on Aug. 30 to investigate a complaint he was harming cats and kittens.

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According to his indictment, Cunningham knowingly caused serious physical harm to the animals on or about that day. Gmoser declined to say how the cats were killed or to discuss motive.

However, Cunningham told police in detail how several of the cats died. According to a report from Middletown police:

  • Cunningham said he brought one cat in as a stray and it began to attack him. He claimed he beat the cat and stabbed it to death in self defense.
  • The report states that Cunningham told police another cat bit him when he tried to shave it, so he punched the cat until it died.
  • According to the police report, Cunningham said another cat pounced on his chest while he was sleeping, so he grabbed the cat by its head and smashed it into a table, killing it.  The cat was pregnant so Cunningham said he tried to perform a c-section and removed three kittens. The kittens later died because they were premature.
  • In addition, the report states that Cunningham told police he filled up the bathtub and put a kitten in the tub, knowing it could not touch the bottom or get out. He came back later to find the kitten had drowned.
  • According to the police report, another kitten developed a severe infection on its side. Rather than getting it treatment, Cunningham told police he allowed the kitten to die.

Cunningham is scheduled to appear for arraignment at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 16 before Butler County Common Pleas Court Judge Charles Pater.

The offense of cruelty to a companion animal is a fifth-degree felony in Ohio after a state law change in 2016.

A companion animal is defined as one kept inside a residential dwelling.

According to the law, serious physical harm to a companion animal includes depriving them of food, water and shelter.

A fifth-degree felony in Ohio is punishable by six to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

The law requires prison time for anyone who assaults and kills a police dog, police horse or service animal.

If convicted on all 14 counts, Cunningham could face a maximum sentence of 14 years in jail and a $35,000 fine.

Gmoser said the case will be vigorously prosecuted.

“Just because they are cats doesn’t mean we somehow look at this less seriously than any other case,” he said. “I want the public to know that we take cases like this very seriously because there is always the possible link between animal cruelty and human cruelty.”

Middletown police are continuing to investigate and develop the case, he said.

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