Investigating the Cruelty Connection
PETA's Animal Times, Winter 1998
In July 1998, Russell Eugene Weston walked into the U.S. Capitol, pulled out a gun and started shooting. When he was done, two police officers were dead and a bystander was wounded. Hours earlier, Weston had been involved in another shooting. That time his targets were cats, more than a dozen strays cared for by his father.
Ally Walker, star of U.S. TV's The Profiler, knows these two events were not unrelated and that Russell Eugene Weston is not a lone statistic. In a new public service announcement for PETA, she hopes to spread the word that violence toward animals is linked to violence toward humans.
"According to the FBI, 80 percent of violent criminals start off abusing animals," says Ally in the PSA.
Among that 80 percent are Albert De Salvo, the "Boston Strangler" who killed 13 women in 1962-63 and reported that, in his youth, he trapped dogs and cats in crates and then shot arrows through the crates. Carroll Edward Cole, executed in 1985 for five of the 35 murders of which he was accused, said his first act of violence was the strangulation of a puppy. Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer confessed to the childhood killings of neighbors' dogs and cats. Richard Allen Davis, the man charged with abducting a California girl from her bedroom and murdering her, reportedly set cats on fire and used dogs as targets to practice knife-throwing. More recently, a rash of deadly school shootings had one thing in common: They were preceded by acts of violence toward animals.
Alert animal control officers are aware of this trend. In San Francisco, officers are trained to recognize child abuse because of the parallel between animal abuse and child abuse. According to the San Francisco Child Abuse Council, people are often quicker to report animal abuse because it is more visible and because people "do not wonder what the animal has done to provoke [it]."
"Animal abuse is a serious crime with serious consequences for all of us," says Ally Walker.
School Shootings Linked by Animal Cruelty
May 1998/Springfield, Ore.: Kip Kinkel killed his parents and two classmates and injured 22 others. He had a history of animal abuse and torture, having boasted about blowing up a cow and killing cats, squirrels and others by putting firecrackers in their mouths.
March 1998/Jonesboro, Ark.: Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden shot and killed four students and a teacher. A friend says Andrew "shoots dogs all the time wit a .22."
December 1997/West Paducah, Ky.: Michael Carneal shot and killed three classmates at a prayer meeting. Carneal had talked about throwing a cat into a bonfire.
October 1997/Pearl, Miss.: Luke Woodham stabbed his mother to death, then shot and killed two classmates and injured seven others. In his diary, Woodham wrote that he and a friend beat, burned and tortured his dog, Sparkle, to death.
Most serial killers have a known history of killing animals. Jeffrey Dahmer killed and strangled neighborhood dogs and cats. Ted Bunty tortured animals as a teenager. Carroll Edward Cole strangled a puppy. David Berkowitz "Son of Sam" shot a neighbor's dog.