According to police, it's one of a number of kitten abuse cases to take place in the area of 1300 North 300 West this month.
"That's disgusting, I don't know what kind of person can do that," said Iniki Talavaley.
That was Talavaley's reaction when he found out his next door neighbor was arrested for allegedly setting a kitten on fire outside his house Tuesday morning.
Neighbor Rosalyn Briggs remembers running to the flames.
"There was a guy walking up the street," Briggs said.
Briggs is referring to 26-year-old Spencer Jens Pedersen. He was arrested and charged on Wednesday with three counts of animal cruelty involving dead kittens. Neighbors believe there are many more victims.
"One neighbor reported finding dead kittens in his dog run and seeing Pedersen near there," an officer wrote.
The neighbor reported that "over the past couple weeks, about eight dead cats have been thrown into his dog pen," the affidavit states. "The last cat found had a yellow rope tied around its neck."
"My wife saw him just on the other side of this fence," said Matt Nelson, pointing to his back yard.
Nelson has discovered at least eight dead and abused kittens in his dog pen in the last two weeks.
"But the cats weren't mauled," Nelson said. "I think his goal was to hide the evidence, kill the cats and then throw them over to hopefully get my dogs to eat them."
Other neighbors reported seeing Pedersen in possession of kittens and being rough with them, according to police. Investigators obtained a search warrant Monday and reported finding a dead cat in Pedersen's trash.
"That cat was taken to a vet and found to have broken back legs, broken jaw and blown ear drums. The vet stated that the injuries were that of blunt force trauma," the affidavit states.
Another dead kitten was uncovered in the corner of Shawna Dorsey's back yard.
She has three children, so she's just glad she saw it first.
"I want this man removed from our neighborhood, what do I have to do?" Dorsey said.
Police say it appears Pedersen was adopting the kittens from some sort of online source. They say this is one of the worst cases of animal abuse they have seen. Pedersen even had a picture of one of the dead kittens on his phone. It was bleeding from its mouth.
[Although I don't know that he used Craigslist as the means to obtain the kittens, I'm using it as one of the 'labels' for this post since it's almost generic to mean 'obtained online' - like kleenex is the brand name for tissue, but most of us say kleenex]
The Humane Society of Utah issued a statement Thursday about the case.
"We are at a loss for words to express our reaction to these gruesome activities," said spokeswoman Deanne Shepherd. "This anti-social behavior is scary since abuse of animals is highly correlated with human abuse."
"This suggests something really disturbing about Mr. Pedersen," said Sgt. Brian Taylor. "We worry that he is at risk of abusing more animals or persons, so we hope he gets some intervention."
During their investigation, police also found heroin in Pedersen's possession. All three animal cruelty charges are felonies. Pedersen is looking at possible jail time.
PREVIOUS TROUBLE WITH LAW
In April, Pedersen was charged with emergency reporting abuse in South Salt Lake Justice Court, but the case was dropped in June.
In 2008, Pedersen was convicted of arson in 2nd District Court, for blowing up mailboxes [this would have been when he was about 18 years old]. His probation was revoked several times for violations, including Lortab abuse, and he was eventually sentenced to one year in jail in 2013, according to court records.
In 2010, Pedersen was convicted of drug distribution.
Pedersen recently married. His wife [stated she] had no knowledge of the animal abuse, according to police.
(Fox13 - Nov 17, 2016)