18-year old charged in Florida cat mutilations
MIAMI — A teenager faces charges in a gruesome string of cat mutilations and killings that have horrified his neighbors and shaken animal lovers in two South Florida communities.
Tyler Hayes Weinman, 18, was charged Sunday with 19 counts each of animal cruelty and improperly disposing of an animal body and four counts of burglary related to the deaths.
In the past month, residents in the Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay neighborhoods have reported finding the bodies of more than two dozen cats. Police said some were likely killed by dogs. Some were missing fur - neighbors said some had been skinned - and appeared to have been cut with a sharp, straight instrument, police said.
"I hope it's not true," 77-year-old Robert Ehrman said about the teen, who lives across the street from her in Cutler Bay. He called his mother a "lovely person," but said he didn't know the teen well. "It's like a death in the family, I'm sure."
Weinman was taken into custody at a party and was being questioned at Miami-Dade police headquarters. Four of the confirmed cat killings were reported on the street where Weinman lived.
His attorney, David W. Macey, said in an e-mail that Weinman is innocent of the charges.
"Tyler welcomes his day in court, so that he will be completely vindicated," Macey said.
According to online jail records, Weinman was being held on $154,500 bond. Jail officials said a court date was been set for July.
The curtains at the small, beige house in the Cutler Bay neighborhood listed on Weinman's arrest affidavit were drawn shut and there were no cars in the driveway. Knocks at the red front door went unanswered. A welcome mat dotted with pictures of paw prints playfully encouraged visitors to "wipe your paws," and a yellow and black crime watch sticker was displayed in the home's front window.
Hantzis, who said his father dates Weinman's mother, called the teenager quiet and well-spoken. Authorities said Weinman was spending his summer doing odd jobs, and his Facebook page says he graduated from Miami Palmetto Senior High this spring.
Police said Weinman was twice arrested as a juvenile, though they said they could not provide details.
Hantzis said he had a hard time picturing the teen as a serial cat killer.
"I don't think, the way he acts and his demeanor, I don't think he could physically do it," he said.