Dozens of dead cats found in van at Elgin home
By Janelle Walker For The Courier-News September 26, 2012 3:16PM
Elgin Animal Control Officers James Rog (left) and Matt Ciesielczyk load three captured cats Sept. 26 at William Tinkler's home. The cats found alive were to be evaluated by a veterinarian, officials said. | Janelle Walker~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 29, 2012 6:31AM
ELGIN — Police on Wednesday removed between 40 to 60 dead cats from a construction van parked behind 259 Villa Street, and animal cruelty charges have been filed against the 60-year-old man who lives there.
William C. Tinkler has been charged with misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals, violations of owners duties, and violation of dead animal disposal act, police said. Tinkler is expected to appear in bond call Thursday morning.
The dead animals will be tested for cause of death, and another five live cats were captured and taken away. They will be checked out by a veterinarian, said Animal Control Officer James Rog, who said he’d return later to capture several other cats that were wandering inside and outside of the home.
A judge could also deem the man an animal hoarder, which could bar him from owning animals in the future, Rog said.
“I am glad we are involved now,” he said.
Police were called to the home after city contractors cutting the home’s lawn discovered the van Tuesday, said police Lt. Dan O’Shea. The contractors could clearly see boxes in the van loaded with dead cats, O’Shea said.
Neighbors said the man had dozens of cats that roamed inside and outside the Italianate-style house, and that he blamed his neighbors when any of them disappeared.
“One cat ran away, and I don’t know how he even knew,” because of the number of cats they saw regularly, said Sabrina Patrick, who has lived across the driveway for the past six months.
Some said they found Tinkler’s actions threatening and that he acted like a “neighbor from hell,” Patrick said.
At least one cat was hit by a car in the street, she added.
The suspect was cooperating with police as they removed the animals, O’Shea said.
Elgin has sent contractors to mow the home’s lawn before, said Vince Cuchetto, code enforcement manager. Tuesday’s cutting was the second one this year. The mowing is ordered if a lawn is taller than 8 inches and the homeowner does not comply with previous requests to mow, he said. When the city comes in to mow a lawn, the cost is charged back to the homeowner.
The city has a history with the home’s owner, officials said.
On Monday, Elgin obtained a court order against the homeowner, identified as Penny Knuth, which allows the city to spend up to $4,000 to fix some of the historic home’s exterior code issues. Knuth would be responsible for repaying the city, according to the order signed by Kane County Judge Kathryn D. Karayannis.
From the street, the front steps are noticeably deteriorating, and the roof has gaps in the wood, showing through to the attic space below.
This is the second time Elgin has taken Knuth to court over the repairs, Cuchetto said.
In 2009, however, Knuth said the property was being foreclosed, so the city dropped the case. That foreclosure was never finalized, he said.
In addition to the court order, the homeowner was notified she had 24 hours to clean up the home’s interior or it will be “red-tagged” and condemned, Cuchetto said.