A San Jose man was sentenced to 16 years in jail yesterday, 7/14/2017, for killing 21 cats and sexually abusing a dead one, a bittersweet outcome for those whose pets began disappearing just about two years ago.
Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Sharon A. Chatman credited Robert Roy Farmer, who is currently 26, for 1,292 days he already has served since his arrest for the crimes that shocked the Cambrian Park community where a good portion of the cats were abducted.
Unfortunately, Farmer will not have to register as a sex offender when he is eventually released, however, a proposed sentencing condition which became a point of contention between his attorney Wesley Schroeder and Deputy District Attorney Alexandra Ellis.
Schroeder had argued that a test performed by a San Jose Animal Services and Care veterinarian proved having no signs of a cat having been sexually assaulted by Farmer. But the same veterinarian testified during a pre-sentencing hearing in May that the possibility couldn’t be eliminated because of the fact that other physical exams showed otherwise and “because limited literature in this field says there may be no injuries at all on an animal.”
The entire bizarre saga unfolded back in September 2015 when cats began mysteriously disappearing from the Cambrian Park neighborhood. Stories began to spread among neighbors about a man who had tried luring two cats into a backpack. One cat managed to escape and was later treated by a veterinarian for a “bite that was not an animal bite, as well as the bleeding head injury,” Cambrian resident David Stine stated at the time.
Several cats have subsequently turned up dead and those include two discovered in a dumpster. And Cambrian resident Janice McKimmie’s 15-year-old cat Beardsly was discovered dead several miles away wrapped in plastic inside a shoe-box with his collar missing and rocks placed on the lid. Stine was shocked when McKimmie said her cat went missing the same morning as his 16-year-old orange tabby cat Chablis, who still has not been located to this day.
Video footage from Miriam Petrova’s security camera later that same week showed a young man grabbing a 17-year-old orange tabby cat GoGo from Petrova’s front porch. Neighbors not long after helped San Jose police identify Farmer as the man in the video, though no trace of GoGo was ever found.
Farmer, who is actually the son of a retired San Jose Police Department captain, was found the morning of Oct. 8, 2015 at a Home Depot parking lot near Hillsdale and Leigh avenues. He just so happened to be sleeping inside his car with a dead cat curled up in the center console when police officers apprehended him. Chunks of fur and streaks of blood covered the interior of Farmer’s vehicle, which is where police also found a backpack with a pair of fur-covered gloves and a hunting knife in a sheath.
Farmer was originally charged with just three felony counts of animal cruelty, one count of attempted animal cruelty, and one misdemeanor count each of battery and also being under the influence. Subsequent DNA tests on blood, fur and other items found in Farmer’s car eventually shot that initial number up to 21 charges of felony animal cruelty–one for each of his feline victims.
Family members and others who knew Farmer explained to the police that they were often terrified around him. An elderly woman who allowed Farmer stay with her and her grandson shortly before his arrest described him tying up the back legs of her cat Angel and smacking it against a wall. One time she said Farmer hit her grandson in the face, completely unprovoked, and on another occasion he shot the same boy in the leg with a pellet gun. Her grandson also told her that Farmer had commented at one time about “what it would feel like to kill a person”; she actually believes that Farmer is already planning to kill people when he gets out of prison.
The case took a shocking turn when a necropsy report from Animal Services found some signs of sexual abuse on the orange female tabby cat inside the car, which included dilated genitals. Crime laboratory reports also noted a match was found between Farmer and DNA found under claw clippings. Schroeder contested the prosecution’s argument that the cat was actually sexually abused.
The conflicting accounts then triggered a debate about whether Farmer should be required to officially register as a sex offender when someday released from prison. Ellis then argued that Farmer’s molestation of the dead cat was sexually motivated but Schroeder proffered other theories.
“Doing something to the body in that area doesn’t necessarily indicate sexual motivation,” Schroeder stated, adding that Farmer’s methamphetamine use at the time may have contributed to his behavior. Torture was another possibility that Schroeder also mentioned but Ellis said that wasn’t possible.
“You can’t torture a dead cat,” she stated.
“If there was an animal cruelty registry then Mr. Farmer would be the perfect picture for that,” Chatman stated. The judge declined to require Farmer to register as a sex offender upon his eventual release, however, stating that Ellis’ arguments “did not meet that burden” for such an order.
“We don’t have experts to form an opinion that similar conduct was sexually motivated,” Chatman said to Ellis. “The entire veterinary community doesn’t study it and so it’s not a piece of evidence I can put on your side of the scale.”
The judge, however, did order him to stay away from cats for 10 years following his release and away from the 95124 Cambrian Park ZIP code area.
Schroeder actually read a letter written by Farmer, in which he said “it feels like another man committed these crimes, but I know it was me.”
“It’s so hard to grasp I did this,” Farmer wrote, also adding that he grew up with cats and horses. “I stole a member of their family. The fact that I was out of my mind was no excuse.”
Ellis dismissed the letter as a form of “manipulation” contradictory to his previous interviews with police and written by a disturbed individual with no hope for rehabilitation. Because of Farmer’s antisocial personality disorder diagnosis by a court doctor, she did urge the judge to consider mental health reports that stated Farmer had a “profound lack of empathy and remorse” for his crimes and “significant anger” demonstrated towards his family. The doctor also considered him a possible danger to the community, with a prognosis for recovery that was “poor, with potential escalation to higher life forms in the future.”
A crowd of several people swarmed outside the courtroom in anticipation of the long-awaited sentencing.
Many of the owners whose cats fell victim to Farmer actually read statements in the courtroom expressing their grief and outrage before he was sentenced. Farmer listened while his back was turned to the crowd the entire time.
Petrova literally wept as she told onlookers how “our sweet GoGo” would cuddle in bed with her children and mourned the sad fact that “we didn’t have the chance to say a proper goodbye.”
“It’s still painful to come home knowing GoGo isn’t waiting for us,” Petrova stated. “Now the only image burned in our minds is GoGo running for his life” on camera as Farmer chased after him.
“GoGo never hurt anybody,” she went on to add, before addressing Farmer directly: “And for you, Robert Farmer–what have you done to GoGo? Where is he?”
Although she had initially hoped Farmer would have to register as a sex offender, Petrova said she is indeed “relieved” that the ordeal is finally over.
“When I spoke up to (Farmer), I felt relieved,” she stated. “It’ll be not closure completely, but partially.”
We here at The Best Cat Page are hoping the United Kingdom’s ‘Croydon Cat Killer’ reads this article so that he will know just what’s coming for him, too – when he gets caught!