Louisville, KY; A Shepherdsville man who was arrested last week after police said he confessed to torturing and mutilating four cats told investigators he killed the animals for medical research, and “in his mind he had valid reasons,” said a lead investigator in the case.
Alex Phelps, 24, seemed “highly intelligent” and “very polite” during questioning, Detective Troy Thompson of Louisville Metro Police told The Courier-Journal in an interview.
Phelps, who worked for Humana, indicated to Thompson he was interested in medical science, but Thompson could not elaborate on why he chose cats and declined to go into detail exactly what he did to them.
According to the arrest slip, Phelps stabbed the cats in the neck with a sharp knife, cut them open and killed them.
Thompson said after seeing some of the remains and evidence, trying to explain what Phelps did to the helpless felines would be too gruesome and “not appropriate to print.”
Phelps was arrested Dec. 30 and charged with four counts of torture of an animal resulting in serious physical injury or death, according to his arrest citation, but Thompson said there is a “good possibility” Phelps is responsible for several more cat mutilations based on the evidence police have found.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges, which are Class D felonies, during an arraignment on Monday and is being held at Metro Corrections on a $50,000 cash bond. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison for each charge.
He is due back in court on Jan. 10.
No lawyer was listed for him.
According to court records, Phelps had only a couple of traffic violations and a dismissed drug charge prior to his arrest last week.
Phelps was responsible for the deaths of three cats found in December, Thompson said, two behind a Kroger grocery store on Mudd Lane and another in a ditch in southern Jefferson County near Antle Drive and Gaskin Court off Preston Highway. A fourth dead cat also was found in Jefferson County.
Similar charges against Phelps are pending in Bullitt County for dead cats found there, Thompson said.
Louisville police are cooperating with Bullitt County authorities in investigating the case, Thompson said, and evidence already has been collected from Phelps' home on White Tail Circle in Shepherdsville, where he lived with his parents.
A phone number listed under the Phelps name on White Tail Circle has been disconnected.
Jennifer Chappell, who gave Phelps three 4- to 5-month old kittens about two months ago after he responded to a Craigslist ad she posted, said she met Phelps when he came to her home to pick them up.
“He was really chatty,” Chappell said. He showed up with a cat carrier and visited with her for about 30 minutes, she said, but there were no “red flags” to indicate he intended to harm the animals.
Chappell said Phelps told her he wanted the cats to replace his girlfriend's pet that had just died. Now that it is possible more dead cats may be linked to Phelps, she said she wants to know what happened to the kittens she gave him.
She said she has been in contact with several others who said they gave Phelps cats after he replied to ads.
She said it has become like a therapy group after they learned Phelps was connected with the mutilated cats.
Kelli Marvin, Ph.D., director of forensic mental health services for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and who has testified as an expert witness in court cases involving animal cruelty, said it is a warning sign of some kind of psychopathology when any individual “methodically” carries out animal abuse.
“Animal cruelty is inherently wrong and indicative of someone that is disturbed,” Marvin said.
By Chris Quay • email@example.com • January 5, 2011
Click to view image: 'ALEX'
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