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Authorities locate ’cat lady’ suspected of killing 650 animals

March 20th, 2007, 07:10 PM
Investigators say that a woman who confessed to killing 650 cats and dogs is expected to return to Columbus to face criminal charges on Monday.

Maureen McLaughlin, 56, apparently had checked herself into a mental-health facility in the Mansfield area by the time authorities went to her North Side apartment on Wednesday, Assistant City Prosecutor Bill Hedrick said.

Hedrick said that a social worker who knows McLaughlin told authorities that the woman has a bipolar disorder.

“I want to make sure our mental-health experts are ready,” Hedrick said.

Investigators from the Franklin County Animal Shelter and the Capital Area Humane Society say McLaughlin has described drowning hundreds of animals in a large trash can filled with water.

Hedrick said McLaughlin told them she got the animals from rescue groups and neighbors. She said she killed them because she didn't want them to languish in the animal-welfare system.

McLaughlin has been charged so far with one count of animal cruelty.

Two animal rescuers have told authorities that they gave Maureen McLaughlin about 150 animals during the past five years.

Hedrick described the apartment as "meticulous," with no signs of pets, though neighbors referred to McLaughlin as "the cat lady."

She had called Columbus police over the weekend telling of her crimes.

When investigators from the Franklin County Animal Shelter and Capital Area Humane Society went to McLaughlin's apartment, she told investigators that she had killed 650 animals and showed them how: She would put an animal in a crate, then drown it in a large trash can filled with water, Hedrick said.

McLaughlin also showed investigators 16 envelopes that had names and descriptions of animals written on them as well as the dates of their deaths, Hedrick said.

The envelopes contained fur or hair.

On Sunday, Cpl. Joe Rock of the Franklin County Department of Animal Care and Control met McLaughlin and videotaped her confessing to killing the animals.

She then led him to the most recent grave, which was in some woods near her home. He said the remains of a short-haired gray and white cat were inside. McLaughlin was charged with one count of animal cruelty.

Sam Massie, a private security guard and animal rescuer, said he hates to think McLaughlin lied to him all these years.

They met in 2001, and he began bringing dogs and cats to her because she said she was affiliated with an organization that did not euthanize animals, he said.

He estimated he and his wife brought McLaughlin 100 animals.

"It's heartbreaking," Massie said. "When we heard, it made us sick to our stomachs."

The Humane Society, the County Animal Shelter, the Columbus Dog Connection and the Columbus Cat Welfare Association, where McLaughlin volunteered about a decade ago, said they have not taken in any animals from McLaughlin during the past five years.

Hedrick said that building a case might prove difficult. The statute of limitations prevents his office from prosecuting animal-cruelty cases more than 2 years old.

McLaughlin, who got around by bicycle, told investigators she dropped the bodies in parks and different forested areas around the county.

When investigators returned to her apartment at 4331-B Malin Dr. E. with a search warrant Wednesday, the envelopes, crate and trash can were gone.

McLaughlin had left a note saying what she wanted to be buried with.

March 20th, 2007, 07:13 PM
OMG ! She even got rescues :sad:

March 20th, 2007, 07:18 PM
She sure did,i saw a little bit of this on the news and they showed how she killed them,i dont care what she had bi polar or restless leg syndrome,she should go to jail for a very very very long time.....So sick of people saying oh i have this sickness or this made me do it........

March 20th, 2007, 07:26 PM
She'll probably end up in an hospital. But not in prison.

March 20th, 2007, 07:28 PM
I just tought about something, bi polar is about having ups and downs ? This lady didn't seem to have any ups, she never had a moment where she tought she was doing a bad thing. So I don't think she can use this as an excuse, just my :2cents:

March 20th, 2007, 07:49 PM
I just cant imagine standing there doing something like that,while they are alive,my god you have to have no conscious at all......

Loves Labs
March 21st, 2007, 07:22 AM
That is just awful...and so many people trusted that she was taking care of rescues...:sad:

I just can't imagine, no matter how sick someone is, how they could do that over and over again. So upsetting. :sad:

March 21st, 2007, 11:22 AM
So sick of people saying oh i have this sickness or this made me do it........

I don't know if the article is saying she's trying to blame what she did on her illness.
The article said a social worker informed them of her bi-polar disorder, and the prosecuter said they wanted to make sure their "mental health experts are ready". This might be standard procedure and they're assuming that because of her bi-polar disorder she may not be cooperative, or may not be able to consistently answer their questions.

I too am tired of people trying to blame things they did on bipolarism though. There are certain acts the bipolarism may make you more likely to do, but some of the things people blame on it are ridulous. Often the disorder can cause someone to make poor judgements, but most likely the person had to of already been inclined towards that behavior.
A lot also depends on how severe the bipolarism is. There are too many people diagnosed as bipolar that aren't truely, or don't have severe ups and downs, and I don't think in that case bipolarism is a valid excuse for their behavior.

I just tought about something, bi polar is about having ups and downs ? This lady didn't seem to have any ups, she never had a moment where she tought she was doing a bad thing. So I don't think she can use this as an excuse, just my

The ups ARE the part where you might think you're not doing anything wrong. When you're in a manic episode you might think that you have better judgement than you actually do. You might think that you have the power to do things that aren't actually within your power. You also may not sleep for days, which can contribute to delusional behavior.

In a depressive episode (or a "down") you may have feelings of guilt. You may think nothing you ever did was right. You may actually consider killing yourself, even for things that aren't that bad.
The article says "She had called Columbus police over the weekend telling of her crimes." This was probably during one of her depressive episodes, if she is indeed bipolar.

You can read about the symptoms here:

The problem with bringing mental illness into court as that the general public has a very poor understanding of most mental illnesses. Plus they judge/jury has to decide "Is this something the person would have done anyway? Did they know it was wrong at the time they did it, regardless of their mental illness?".

My mom is schizoaffective (manic depressive + schizophrenic), so I have firsthand experience on what some of these illnesses can do to a person. I've also researched and met several people with all kinds of mental disorders because of her.

Medically, can a mental illness be an excuse for extreme behavior? Yes. Can it in court? That's heavily up for debate.

That said, I think the lady in the article is extremely sick. Killing 650 animals? Especially the way she did, she had to of known at one time or another what she was doing was wrong.

March 21st, 2007, 06:33 PM
I dio not see how she gets off - she knew what she was doing was wrong and that's all that is important in reaching a verdict of diminished capacity. But she did run to a mental health facility and claim bipolar disorder. Gawd, I don't care what she has - I mean, if she was schizophrenic and had some serious ,mental illness that had voices telling her to do it and a dcumented history of institutionalization and therapy but that does not seem to be the case. My fear is she is using the system - and I have learned (from being burned once or twice as an intern I have to admit, Ms or Dr. Nice in the ER) that not everyone who claims to have a bipolar illness necessarily does!!

I rarely deal with that field now anyway but I spent a few years as a student working for an aunt who is a psychiatrist. It just seems some ppl find that diagnosis very convenient from time to time making it more difficult for those who really need help!!!

March 21st, 2007, 07:14 PM
But why would rescues continue to give her hundreds of animals without looking into her story ? :eek: :mad:

March 21st, 2007, 07:41 PM
But why would rescues continue to give her hundreds of animals without looking into her story ? :eek: :mad:

Or asking her to come up with a valid story, like, who did you adopt the animal out to? That seems like a question that would have come up, no?:confused:

March 21st, 2007, 08:01 PM
But why would rescues continue to give her hundreds of animals without looking into her story ?

I wondered that too. You'd think they'd actually check up on at least a couple of animals to see who they went to.

March 23rd, 2007, 12:23 PM
I doubt anything will happen to her.Maybe a month tops in an insane asylum. I doubt even that. Maybe some probation. Case will likely be thrown out.

The court system is too screwed up to care about justice.

in my opinion.

You get more time for stealing a garden gnome then rape or murder. People now-a-days only know how to put a price on an object and go from there. Since she got the cats for free, no price or money involved and therefore no ones going to care.

:sad: it's so terrible though :(

March 28th, 2007, 02:13 AM
found guilty then they should let the doctors in the experiment labs use to to experiment on instead of the poor animals, they should do that with every inmate on death row. Just my opinion.

March 28th, 2007, 08:05 AM
She should be placed on a chair, tied securely to it, and then have lots of cats and dogs go into the room and lick her and jump on her, every day for hours! Then she might just really go crazy!

I agree, I'm so tired of people blaming some mental thing for their mis deeds (against animals or humans, doesn't matter). It's probably true that at the moment of the mis-deed they don't realy "know" what they're doing because the mind sort of blanks out at that particular moment, but I can't believe that these people don't know before and certainly after they've done something!

And who pays the bill? Who pays for their "housing" in jail or mental institution? Who pays for their food?

:yell: :yell: :yell: