Prank caller targets people with missing pets

Daniel
Daniel MacEachern
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A man phoned Jessica Rendell late Sunday night to tell her he found her missing cat, and beat it to death. Rendell found out from police other people have received similar phone calls. — Submitted photos

When Jessica Rendell answered her phone late Sunday night, she was suspicious of the caller’s claims that he’d found her missing cat, Callie.

“I was a little guarded, because it was 10 o’clock at night, and it was a long-distance number,” she said. “However, as I started to talk to him, it did start to sound believable. He said he picked her up in the west end, and that’s where she’d gone missing.”

Rendell is the executive director of Heavenly Creatures in St. John’s, an animal charity with a website where people can post pictures of lost and found pets. She directed the caller to the website to see the picture of her cat, Callie, and he said it was definitely her. But when she asked for his address so she could come collect her pet, the man changed his story.

“He said, cruelly, that he had beaten her to death, stomped her to death, and began to laugh. I was so horrified that I hung up,” she said.

Rendell called the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, who told her they’d had several other similar complaints.

Laura Murphy, whose shih tzu Barney has been missing since March 14, received a similar call Sunday night.

“He phoned me last night and said, ‘I found that little shih tzu you’re looking for,’” said Murphy. He became evasive when she asked where he was.

“My little girl’s here, so I don’t know if I should say it, but he said, ‘I just beat him to d-e-a-t-h.’ I don’t want to say it, because my little girl’s here. But he repeated it several times.”

Murphy told the man she was calling the police, and hung up on him. The RNC sent an officer over, who told her there wasn’t much they could do, she said.

“I didn’t have the phone number of the person. I don’t have call display on my cellphone, and it was probably blocked anyway.”

Attempts by both Murphy and the officer to get her service provider to divulge the number were unsuccessful, she said, because it wasn’t a life-threatening matter.

“But I feel a dog’s life is still a life.”

Murphy’s confident the man didn’t actually have her missing pet, because he called the phone number posted in a missing-pet Facebook group, rather than the phone number printed on the dog’s tag itself.

“I’m hoping it’s not true. I’m hoping it’s some sick, disgusting prank. I don’t know who would find that funny, but apparently somebody must,” she said.

Rendell said she hopes alerting people to the cruel prank will make the caller stop it, if he knows people are on to him and the police are aware of it.

“This is the first I’ve ever heard of anything like this. I suspected it was a prank, but when you don’t know for sure, and you’ve just gotten your hopes up because you think your missing pet has been found, and then you’re presented with the image of your animal being harmed in such a terrible manner — it definitely rattled my cage,” she said.

As for pet owners with missing animals, Rendell said unless a body has been found, there’s still a chance the pet is out there.

“We’ve had many cases of animals, especially cats, being found after six months or two years,” she said, adding that Heavenly Creatures finds that passing out flyers is an effective way to track down a missing pet, as well as using any of a number of lost pet websites or social media groups, such as NL Pet Finders on Facebook.

 

dmaceachern@thetelegram.com

 Twitter: TelegramDaniel

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Recent comments

  • MW
    March 22, 2012 - 12:13

    He's gonna be caught.

  • Gorton dorton
    March 21, 2012 - 20:20

    This person is obviously very sick, fortunatly, he's probably joking about killing those missing animals, I hope.

  • yvette butt
    March 20, 2012 - 18:49

    Time for this loser to get a job...get a life....he got too much time on his hands....dirt pod....i hope someone, you know what....you are not worth it - you piece of _____.

  • Valerie
    March 20, 2012 - 12:24

    I hope if he ever gets to read this, that he may become fully aware that while he picks on innocents & terrified families, there are bigger, angrier bullies than he. karma is rearing her ugly head at you, sir.

  • Seriously
    March 20, 2012 - 11:56

    I seriously hope that there is not a little girl living with that man. If there is I worry for her safety. I hope all the missing animals out there find their way home.

  • redrantingtory
    March 20, 2012 - 11:39

    I hope the person who sent these calls reads this. This person as the intelligence of a rock. What kind of person does such a cruel thing? The type that as just enough brains to be dangerous. Stupid ignorant people who think such things are funny. The only thing funny aout it is just how ignorant someone as to be to dso such a thing.

  • BONITA
    March 20, 2012 - 09:58

    THIS IS NOT PEOPLE WHO ARE MAKING THESE CALLES, THIS IS SICK WARPED AND LOWER THAN LIFE ANIMALS,,,, WE ARE LIVING IN A VERY SICK SOCIETY, BELEIVE IT OR NOT,,,, PEOPLE ARE JUST PLAIN CRUEL,,,, WHAT U SEE IS NOT WHAT U GET ANY MORE,,,,, I HOPE THE PEOPLE THAT LOST THEIR PETS , FIND THEM SAFELY.......

  • Mary Benedict
    March 20, 2012 - 08:55

    This caller is evil and sick, I beleive anyone who can say these things are capable of anything. Please God, he will make a mistake and get caught, he deserves to be in jail or a mental institution. He can't know how precious some pets are to their owners, it anything happened to mine, I would be devastated. I hope you peape who have lost your pets will find them safely.

  • Glenn
    March 20, 2012 - 08:44

    What kind of sick person would do this to people who are missing their family pet. I hope he is found and given some psychiatric help because he certainly needs it.

  • Animal Lover
    March 20, 2012 - 08:26

    Isn't there such thing as CALL TRACE by pressing *57 after you hang up from the call you had received? I think that a phone provider should be obligated to release numbers to the police when calls like this are made to people. Jessica, I hope you find your cat and that Barney is returned to Laura as well. Good luck!

  • JP
    March 20, 2012 - 08:21

    The people responsible for making these calls needs to have his whiskers cut off for being so cruel(if you know what I mean). I know the RNC will likely do a court order for the phone companies but I don't have high hopes the suspect(s) will be caught. The use of cell phones these days complicates tracking down these poor excuses for human beings.