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Cat ‘hoarder’ sent for mental evaluation

William Tinkler

William Tinkler

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Updated: December 5, 2012 6:29AM

ELGIN — Further criminal court action against alleged animal hoarder William Tinkler has been delayed until his mental state can be tested.

As Tinkler went before Kane County Judge Kathryn Karayannis on Friday, defense lawyer Michael Reidy made a motion that he be tested for mental and physical fitness to stand trial. Karayannis ordered him to be evaluated by the Kane County Fitness Center and set a new hearing for 9 a.m. Jan. 10 in Elgin Branch Court. At that time, she said, she will rule whether he is fit to face the charges and, if so, he will be asked to plead guilty or not guilty.

Tinkler reportedly took care of dozens of stray cats at his Villa Street home before police found 43 dead animals in his van and temporarily declared his home uninhabitable because of unsanitary conditions.

After Friday’s hearing, Reidy said his client is a Vietnam War veteran and may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Tinkler lived alone except for the numerous cats he reportedly took care of, although both Reidy and neighbors said Tinkler has a close friendship with Penny Knuth, the woman who owns his home but does not also live there.

Tinkler is charged with four counts of cruelty to animals, four counts of violating an animal owner’s duties and one count of violating the Dead Animal Disposal Act — all misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail, fines or probation.

Tinkler has been free since his arrest on $150 bond. At a hearing Oct. 11, Assistant State’s Attorney Kelley Flinn asked the judge to revoke or increase Tinkler’s bond because he allegedly had interfered with police attempts to capture any other animals on his own property. Reidy said Friday that he was ready to argue about that motion, but Flinn said she would need testimony from a witness who was not available. The judge then said she would rule on the bail bond issue on Jan. 10, too.

The missing witness is believed to be Elgin police Animal Control Officer James Rog, who led the raid on Tinkler’s home on Sept. 26. Rog was unavailable for comment after the hearing.

Trap issue

After the hearing, Reidy said the police set four traps, two outdoors and two indoors. He said two of those traps captured raccoons — one outdoors and one indoors. The other two traps were knocked over or damaged, which Reidy said is why the prosecutor is claiming that Tinkler interfered with the trapping.

Tinkler “did not interfere with the trapping,” Reidy told a reporter. “Raccoons are known to interfere with traps like that and that’s probably how they got flipped over.”

The attorney did not say how a raccoon could have gotten inside the home. Rog was unavailable for comment.

Tinkler, 60, who reportedly is suffering from a hip problem, seemed barely able to walk before and during the hearing. He leaned against a wall as he walked slowly down a hallway, had to be helped to the front of the courtroom by a friend, and sat in a chair while facing the judge.

Reidy told the judge Tinkler also has lost his father, who died at age 80-plus in Maryland on Oct. 28. The judge gave Tinkler permission to leave Illinois so he can attend the funeral over this weekend.

“In just a few months, he is losing his pets, his father and soon his home,” Reidy said after the hearing. He said the rented east-side Victorian home Tinkler lives in has been foreclosed by its mortgage holder and will go up for sheriff’s sale in December.

Reidy said the four live cats found during the police raid, whose ownership was ordered turned over to the state at the last hearing, already have been adopted by new owners via the Golf Rose Animal Hospital in Schaumburg.

‘Like St. Francis’

Tinkler was accompanied at the hearing by Knuth and by a male neighbor, who said he was there to provide moral support for his friend.

“There is no evidence that he ever hurt any animals,” Reidy said. “He just loves animals, and he wanted to take care of all the strays in the neighborhood. He was like St. Francis of Assisi. The four cats found alive were healthy except for some minor upper respiratory infections.”

Reidy said the 43 rotting dead animals found in the van parked in Tinkler’s driveway — which reportedly included not only 27 cats but various birds, squirrels, opossums, a muskrat and possibly a ferret and a dog — all died of natural causes. “He just couldn’t bring himself to get rid of them.”

One neighbor said after the arrest that she believes some kind of infectious lung disease was spreading among the many cats who hung out in Tinkler’s yard and home.

Tinkler’s is one of three high-profile animal hoarding cases that came to light in the far-west Chicago area this fall. Last month, a house in Aurora was found to contain scores of birds. And just last week, a home in Woodstock was found to contain an estimated 91 animals, most of them birds.

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