‘M25 Animal Killer’ in St Albans, Hatfield and Potters Bar now believed to be fox scavenging

Jack the cat was decapitated by the M25 Animal Killer

Jack the cat was decapitated by the M25 Animal Killer - Credit: Archant

A three year investigation into the so-called M25 Animal Killer has been closed because police no longer believe a human is responsible.

Taz was a well-loved rescue cat. Photo: Jayne Galloway

Taz was a well-loved rescue cat. Photo: Jayne Galloway - Credit: Jayne Galloway

Since 2014, more than 400 cats, rabbits, and others pets around the country have been reported as butchered by a sadistic criminal - including from St Albans, Harpenden, Hatfield, and Potters Bar.

The corpses often had heads and tails removed, which the owners found.

This caused widespread public concern and after lobbying from the South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty (SNARL) centre, police set up Operation Takahe to investigate in 2015.

However, the Metropolitan Police now believe the ‘perpetrator’ is simply natural scavenging by foxes.

Elmo was decapitated. Picture: Donna Leal

Elmo was decapitated. Picture: Donna Leal - Credit: Archant

Frontline Policing Cmdr Amanda Pearson said: “The decision was made to allocate a large number of similar reports of mutilated cats to the officers who were investigating the initial spate of such allegations. In particular, they were following up the six suspicious cases identified by the [SNARL] post-mortem examinations.

“While this increased the workload of those officers, it significantly reduced the resources that would have been required for different officers in different units to record and assess each allegation separately.”

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Met police found no evidence of human involvement in any of the six specific cases - there were no witnesses, no forensic leads, and no suspects.

In three instances where CCTV was obtained, foxes can be seen carrying body parts.

Experts in veterinary pathology also concluded the killings were predatory.

Cmdr Pearson added: “It is this collating of reports that enabled officers to work with experts and reach the conclusion that no further police investigations are required into any of the allegations relating to mutilated cats.”

She referred all animal welfare calls to the RSPCA in the future.

SNARL released a statement: “As you can imagine, this morning’s announcement has come as a surprise and we will be taking advice on how to move forward.

“We consider that the evidence we have gathered over the last three years does indicate human involvement and there is expert opinion to back this up. Over the last three years, we have discounted over 1,500 incidents as non-human related.

“The police have said that they will continue to investigate incidents where there is clear evidence of human involvement.

“Our priority at the moment is the victim’s families and we will release a further statement in due course.”

Late last year, two Harpenden bunnies - Elmo and Teddy - were believed to have been victims of the M25 animal killer.

An elderly St Albans house cat called Jack was also believed to have been targeted in May 2017.

A man also found a rabbit beheaded on Hatfield’s St Audreys Close in March this year, and Potters Bar cat Taz was discovered mutilated in October 2017.