A Wisconsin man faces felony charges after police say he used traps to catch neighbors’ cats and then tossed the pets’ dead bodies onto a woman’s property to harass her.
Paul Greiner, a 73-year-old retired Wisconsin state trooper, was trapping the cats near bird feeders in his yard in Portage, Wisconsin, according to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.
Nine dead cats ended up on the woman’s property, deputies said. The carcasses started appearing in February and then just kept coming. So far, three of the bodies been identified as the remains of Portage residents’ missing pets.
Greiner is scheduled to appear in court April 18 to face felony animal mistreatment, catnapping, disorderly conduct and harassment charges in the case, the sheriff’s office said.
Greiner had denied killing the cats and dumping their bodies, deputies said. But on Wednesday a search warrant of his property was executed, revealing a trove of tools that could have been involved in the alleged crimes — including big and small live animal traps, an open can of tuna and black gloves, the Portage Daily Register reports.
Now Greiner has admitted to the crime: “He was able to provide us with his reasoning for his actions and he’s taking responsibility for that,” Portage Detective Lt. Dan Garrigan told WKOW.
The suspect’s justification?
“He didn’t like the fact that they were in his bird feeders and took matters into his own hands and trapped these cats,” Garrigan told WISN.
Greiner wasn’t done with the cats once he’d trapped them. He would then drop their dead bodies on the property of Liz Masterson, with whom he had a personal dispute, deputies said. Masterson told WKOW she suspected it was done to intimidate her.
Masterson took to Facebook to post pictures of the dead cats in an attempt to find the animals’ owners. Photos of the cats show they were declawed or had trimmed nails and were well-fed, suggesting they were someone’s pet.
One cat’s body was particularly disturbing, Masterson said.
“What was really so frightening about it was the expression it had on its face, almost like it was screaming with its eyes open,” Masterson told WISN.
Finally, Masterson caught Greiner in the act on March 26, deputies said. That was just a few days after Masterson called to report the dead cats that had started appearing on her land.
“I saw the suspect get out of his vehicle, open his trunk and toss a dead cat on my property,” Masterson told WISN.
Masterson said she’s not sure if there is a specific reason Greiner was targeting her — other than to be intimidating.
“It’s been terrifying,” she told WISN. “I took every cat that I found as a threat to myself and my family, my kids, my pets. And just who does something like that?"
Police have their suspicions.
“Because of those personal conflicts in the past, I think he was dumping them out there for some harassment and really to stick it to the people,” Columbia County detective Roger Brandner told WKOW.
Authorities did not say how the trapped cats ended up dead.
Greiner’s only previous crime was in 2016, according to Wisconsin court records, when he pleaded no contest to a citation for using a firearm within 100 yards of a building, the Daily Register reports.