A 22-year-old man in Illinois was arrested this week after his girlfriend allegedly discovered that he had tortured, killed, and then replaced his kitten with a lookalike at least six times in the last three months.
Thomas William Martel — who allegedly microwaved at least one of the unlucky pets — turned himself in and was taken into custody on Monday and charged with two felony counts of animal torture and four felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, authorities confirmed to Law&Crime.
Investigators with the Chicago Police Department said that Martel is believed to have killed the kittens in multiple different ways, according to an arrest report obtained by the Chicago Tribune. The methods of killing included drowning, squeezing, and mutilation “with a sharp object,” the report states.
At least one other dead kitten was found in Martel’s apartment — located in the 1500 block of North Wicker Park Avenue — inside of a plastic bag, which Martel’s girlfriend reportedly told investigators he killed by microwaving the feline. Due to the state of the remains in the bag, it was unclear if it was only one dead animal, but police wrote that the bag appeared to contain parts of “multiple kittens,” the Daily Beast reported. In fact, the girlfriend told police Martel had admitted to her that he microwaved three different kittens and put their remains in his pantry.
Authorities believe that Martel has killed at least six kittens since May, but said there could be more, per the Daily Beast.
Martel’s girlfriend, whose name was not included in the reports, first became suspicious about his macabre penchant for killing the animals after someone in May sent her a video of Martel tossing a pillowcase into Lake Michigan, CWBChicago reported. The person who sent her the video also reportedly explained to her that Martel’s new kitten, “Shelly,” was inside of the pillowcase. The girlfriend reportedly told investigators that she never saw Shelly again after viewing the video, although Martel has not been charged for that alleged incident.
Making matters even more disturbing, authorities reportedly said that all of the kittens Martel killed were baby “tabby cats” — meaning they had a distinctive “M”-shaped marking on their foreheads and stripes on their face and back — and that Martel had named each of them “Shelly.”
Prosecutors detailed the horrifying allegations against Martel during a bond hearing in before Cook County Circuit Court Judge Kelly Marie McCarthy on Tuesday.
Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Sarah Dale-Schmidt told the court that each time Martel killed one of the kittens, he would find a similar looking replacement on Craigslist, purchase the animal, and bring it home so that his mother would not get suspicious, CWBChicago reported. Dale-Schmidt added that Martel allegedly told his girlfriend he “enjoyed killing cats” and that he had “been like that since he was 8 years old.”
Prosecutors reportedly recounted statements from Martel’s girlfriend, who allegedly said that a few days after the pillowcase incident, she went to Martel’s home where he showed her his new kitten — also named Shelly. She said Martel, who was drinking and doing drugs, put the kitten in a tub of water, then pulled it out and gave the animal CPR by using his thumb to perform chest compressions. The next day, he allegedly said the kitten required additional chest compressions and brought it into his bathroom for a few minutes. When he came back out, the kitten was allegedly dead. She said he threw it down his trash chute and went back on Craigslist, found another replacement, and named it Shelly.
According to CWBChicago, after the girlfriend witnessed four kittens die in Martel’s care, she went through his phone and allegedly found pictures and videos of him torturing the last cat in graphic detail. One of the videos reportedly showed the fourth “Shelly” still alive and was captioned “just before I murder her.”
Martel on June 23 allegedly told his girlfriend that he’d microwaved three kittens and showed her the bag in his pantry, CWBChicago reported. That evening, she contacted police and reportedly directed them to where he was keeping the remains.
“We’re seeing a pattern of going back again and again,” Judge McCarthy reportedly said during the proceeding. “Killing an animal, going out and getting a replacement. Kill that one, get a replacement. Kill that one, get a replacement. And, unfortunately, this was allowed to continue for a sustained period of time and numerous animals lost their lives.”
Martel’s attorney, Brandon Brown, reportedly told the court that his client was planning to start a new mental health treatment this week. Brown did not immediately respond to a message from Law&Crime.
Martel was released from detention after posting $75,000 bond. He is required to wear an electronic monitor and may not have any contact with animals. His next court date is currently scheduled for Monday.
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Thomas William Martel allegedly tortured, killed kittens
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