Tyler Weinman: Portrait of An Accused Serial Cat Killer
(above) ACCUSED CAT KILLER TYLER WEINMAN
As news of the arrest of the alleged Miami cat killer spread far and wide Sunday morning, residents of Miami’s affluent suburbs to the south breathed a collective sigh of relief: 18-year-old Tyler Weinman, a senior at Miami Palmetto High School, was identified by police as having been the perpetrator behind a month-long killing spree which left dozens of pet cats in the Cutler Bay and Palmetto Bay neighborhoods gutted, partially skinned and ghoulishly posed in their owners’ front yards.
Weinman’s parents, divorced in 2006, each resided in the two affected neighborhoods. Weinman lived with his mother, Alba Weinman, a life coach and one-time Crime Watch leader, on a street in the Whispering Pines section of Cutler Bay, where four of the killings had taken place. His father Douglas, a dentist, lived with the suspect’s stepmother approximately 2 miles away in Palmetto Bay, in an area also targeted by the killer.
Detained at a party in Coral Gables just after midnight Sunday, Weinman was charged with marijuana possession, along with 19 counts of animal cruelty, 19 counts of improperly disposing of an animal’s body, and four counts of burglary. Scheduled to be arraigned today (Monday), his bond has been set at $154,500. His attorney, David Macey, claims that his client is innocent, as have many of Weinman’s friends, who have started a Facebook group seeking “justice for Tyler”. Weinman was booked at 1:23 p.m. Sunday at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center and the arrest affidavit, according to the State Attorney‘s Office, remains sealed.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, animal cruelty is a felony with a maximum sentence of five years for each cat.
At yesterday’s press conference, police declined to comment exactly how they were able to determine that Weinman was the individual behind the killings, although they did mention that community tips, as well as his own participation in various online social networking sites—including youtube, myspace, and Facebook—helped them make the case. Ironically, he had joined a 1600-strong Facebook group called “Catch the Cat Killer!” prior to his detention.
Weinman had first been interviewed on the night of his senior prom a few weeks ago, and placed under surveillance since that time, even as more mutilations were occurring in the area. Police have stated that more arrests may be forthcoming in the case, although dogs may have been responsible for some of the 33 known killings.
Serial killers are typically profiled as sociopathic white males in their 20’s and 30’s, agitated loners, socially-impaired individuals who generally start with animals and work their way up to people.
Tyler’s friends are quick to point out that he doesn’t fit the m.o., describing him as an outgoing individual and occasional Swim Gym Aquatic Summer camp counselor who was known to be affectionate toward pets and somewhat of a class clown.
(above) TYLER WEINMAN LIKED TO JOKE AROUND, SAY FRIENDS
Said classmate Vincent Warger:
‘‘He’s nice guy. I’ve known him since sixth grade. He was the kind of kid I hung out with in a group. He’s pretty cool, a chill guy. Seemed like a pretty normal kid. I’ve been to a few parties at his house.’‘
‘‘I don’t think they have the right person,’’ wrote Kathy Hernandez, who’d known him since middle school, in an e-mail. ``It does not at all seem like he would do something like this. He was a great kid…He was always so nice to my animals. I have three cats and they loved him.’‘
19-year-old neighbor Kyle Hantzis added, “I don’t think, the way he acts and his demeanor, I don’t think he could physically do it.”
Other neighbors described him as “quiet” and “well-spoken.”
However, seemingly at odds with the conscientious image painted by his neighbors and classmates, Weinman chose to smirk in his mugshot.
(above) WEINMAN SMILES FOR HIS MUGSHOT
PUTTING A FACE ON CRIME
Some of the owners of the mutilated cats expressed a cautious optimism over Weinman’s arrest, though it does little to ease their loss.
Among the pets targeted was Tommy, a black and white tuxedo cat given by Ronald and Donna Gleason to their 6-year-old daughter, who’d desperately wanted a kitten. The Gleasons had been searching for a shelter cat who got along with their dog, but none of the ones they’d brought home were compatible. They prayed that they’d find a nice cat that liked their dog and then one day Tommy showed up at their door and soon became part of the family. Their daughter loved and played with her new pet every morning, they said. Then, on May 25, Ronald Gleason found Tommy’s mangled body in their yard. At first he thought he’d been attacked by a dog: ““Part of his skin was missing underneath ... and part of his legs,” Gleason recalled. “He was partially skinned.”
(above) TOMMY WAS A LITTLE GIRL’S GIFT
Donna Gleason told her daughter that Tommy had been killed by an animal. “Well,” she reflected in a June 11th CNN interview, “An animal did kill him.”
Another Palmetto Bay resident, 42-year-old Alicia Glatzer, spoke of a pretty white cat with a black and tan tail that she and her husband had adopted three years ago. They discovered her outside their home a month ago. She had been skinned and part of her face was missing. At first, the Glatzers thought she’d been hit by a car, but shortly afterward learned about the killings.
(above) ALICIA GLATZER HOLDS UP A PICTURE OF HER CAT, SARAH
A short distance away, Mary Lou Shad and her husband Thomas mourned the loss of their pet, Miss Kitty. In a June 10 interview with the Associated Press, Mary Lou recounted that Thomas had found Miss Kitty in a neighbor’s yard, her head smashed and her legs skinned. “Her leg looked like a chicken leg with no skin on it,” Shad stated. “We had to dig her up so they could take pictures. It was heartbreaking.”
The black cat had once been a stray, but the couple had since adopted her as a pet. “Every time I hear about someone else, I’m in their shoes and I see my cat again. I feel terrorized to the point where everywhere I go, I’m looking for dead cats on the side of the road.”
(above) A SOUTH MIAMI RESIDENT HOLDS A PHOTO OF HER CATS, ONE OF WHICH WAS KILLED
NATURAL BORN KILLERS?
To many, almost as shocking as these barbaric killings were the reactions of some in the community. One man, using the name “Barry Sharon”, created a Facebook Group called “Fans of the Miami Cat Serial Killer” which he described as “a group for people who really don’t like cats…and is happy someone is doing something about it!”
Almost inconceivably, more than a few individuals appear to cite cats’ natural predatory inclinations to hunt rodents and birds as tacit rationales for the killings, failing to take into consideration that these are people’s pets, domestic animals with rights.
On justnews.com, in reference to the news of Weinman’s arrest, one comment read:
Another poster in the miamibeach411.com forums, in seeming effort to draw a moral equivalency, wrote:
Somehow I doubt the killer was motivated by compassion for the blue jays.
Moveover, I personally have yet to see my cats come home with a bird in their mouths, much less a squirrel, so I don’t feel they all qualify as savage hunters. In fact, I’ve observed that domesticity has a way of mending even the most adversarial relationships.
(above) AN UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP
Meanwhile, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Katy Soren optimistically proclaimed in the Sunday press conference, “Thankfully, for this community, the terror has come to an end.”
Sadly, when I think about the attitudes described above, I wonder if it really has.
If anyone has additional information concerning these crimes, please contact Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477 (TIPS).
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"Tyler Weinman: Portrait of An Accused Serial Cat Killer"