Also see: "Cat Killings in San Antonio"
by Justin D. Anderson
December 21, 2007
Daily Mail Capitol Reporter
Roane County Sheriff Todd Cole says he's glad a Spencer man's going to jail for cutting the head off a cat in what police say was a satanic ritual.
"At what point would he maybe escalate from the animal rituals to a human being?" Cole speculated Thursday.
A week ago, Kenneth Leroy McCoy, 23, pleaded guilty in Roane Circuit Court to separate crimes that, if anything else, struck police in the rural area as extremely unordinary.
In addition to animal cruelty, McCoy also pleaded guilty to a state hate crime for writing a threatening letter to a Hispanic neighbor.
He faces up to 5 years in prison when he's sentenced in late January. He's now lodged in Central Regional Jail on $30,500 bond.
The cruelty charge related to a gruesome find in Dec. 2006 by two women out walking in the public park near the Charles Fork Lake Dam.
The women told sheriff's deputies they needed to go out there and take a look.
"I went up to the picnic shelter were I found a black cat with its head cut off," Deputy James Caldwell wrote in a criminal complaint. "And it was laying in a pool of blood with its guts hanging out."
Caldwell reported that the cat had been laid in the middle of a pentagram spray- painted on the concrete floor of the shelter. The cat's feet were tied together with a shoestring.
A pentagram is a five-pointed star sometimes associated with either Satanism or witchcraft.
Public bathrooms at the park also had been vandalized with spray-painted satanic symbols, the deputy said.
Cole, the sheriff, said deputies who had been patrolling the area earlier that night had found McCoy sitting alone in his vehicle.
"He had some unusual things in the car that night," Cole said. "Like knives and small nooses."
Cole said McCoy had been a suspect in the cat mutilation right from the start. He said deputies did a background check on the man and found he'd been suspected of similar acts in Vine Grove, Ky., which is just south of the Ft. Knox Military Reservation.
Cole said his deputies discovered that McCoy had some violent run-ins with Kentucky law enforcement, and had been accused of causing $1,500 worth of damage to the backseat of a cruiser while he was in custody.
According to the complaint, McCoy's brother told Spencer police that McCoy had admitted to him he'd obtained the cat through posting in a classified advertising mailer - the Trader's Guide - and later mutilated it at the park. Police also said McCoy's brother alleged the man had admitted vandalizing the park's bathrooms.
Deputies later searched McCoy's belongings and found disturbing writings and drawings, Cole said.
"In this area, we rarely see this, if ever, somebody so consumed with devil worship," Cole said. "There were things there that you may hear about."
The second felony stemmed from the hate-filled letter police say McCoy left on the door of his upstairs neighbor in an apartment building on Market Street in Spencer. McCoy was living in an apartment with his mother at the time, police said.
"It was threatening, very threatening," Spencer Police Chief Gary Williams said. "It put the victim at great fear ... When they brought this letter over here, we were just astounded by the content. We jumped on it immediately."
A person familiar with McCoy matched his handwriting with that on the letter sent to his neighbor, Williams said.
The investigation into the letter included interviews and statements from family members, Cole said. These statements eventually led to McCoy's arrest for the cat mutilation, police said.
Spencer police consulted with the state Attorney General's office on filing the hate crime charge, Williams said. The chief said he believed McCoy's was only the second successful prosecution of a hate crime in state history.
Williams said McCoy was known around Spencer for driving a small car covered with spray-painted satanic symbolism.
"It was quite offending," Williams said. "In a small community, you bring a lot of attention to yourself with those kinds of actions."