By Elisa Black-Taylor
A Mesa, Arizona serial catnapper (cat thief) was sentenced August 14 for catnapping a cat named Biscuit, although he admitted to Judge Lue Sang he’d catnapped between 30-40 cats in his neighborhood. Andrew Scott Graham received a light sentence, including 36 months unsupervised probation, a fine, a mental health evaluation and 30 days house arrest.
Graham was caught on CCTV video last August, where he can be seen taking Biscuit. Owner Amy Kalis wanted to see Graham thrown in jail. Residents in the neighborhood witnessed Graham throwing a cat believed to be Biscuit out of his car, who was found mutilated the next day. Authorities then changed their story and said the dead cat wasn’t Biscuit, and lack of evidence led to the catnapping case being thrown out of court in Maricopa County last September.
Animal abuse charges were filed after authorities viewed the CCTV footage. Three other neighborhood cats were found dead the day after Biscuit was catnapped, one of them identified as Biscuit. That’s why animal lovers, along with others who had followed the case, were shocked when Maricopa County dropped the animal abuse charges. There simply wasn’t enough evidence.
So the only charge Maricopa County could arrest Graham on was for catnapping Biscuit. Graham lives with family in the neighborhood where the cats went missing. Now residents are worried about their children, as well as their pets.
Amy Kalis told the judge Biscuit was a member of her family for 12 years. Although the judge acknowledged Biscuit was priceless to Amy, the six month jail time didn’t fit the crime, since catnapping isn’t considered a felony.
Neighbors say a total of 12 cats went missing, with two found dead. Graham had cat hair and blood in the trunk of his car. A bad odor was also present, but Graham explains it all, saying a group of cats got into a fight and jumped in the trunk one night. He has admitted to taking several dozen cats, but says he only took them home and played with them before turning them loose. Residents in the area believe Graham has been stealing cats for three to five years now.
Amy is traumatized after seeing the remains of her mutilated cat, and gave a statement to news media following the sentencing.
“He destroyed the memory of him [Biscuit]. Now I have the memory of a horrific image after identifying him of the crime against him. I still believe he committed this crime against Biscuit, mutilated him and killed him.”
If the cat found wasn’t Biscuit, then where WAS Biscuit? Amy’s cat was never seen again after Graham took the cat.
Part of the sentencing prohibits Graham from making any contact with Amy. One change residents in the area would like to see happen is for law enforcement to keep the remains of any mutilated cats as evidence, in case it can help convict a future case. None of the three cats found dead and mutilated were kept, and could have played an important role in getting a conviction.
It’s a shame this man got off with such a light sentence. When animal cruelty isn’t taken seriously, eventually it’s a person who becomes the next victim. Maricopa County should be held accountable for any crimes Graham commits in the future. Animal abuse usually escalates to crimes against society, and Graham will be free to walk the streets of Mesa after serving a month on house arrest. Hopefully those in his neighborhood will keep their cats safely inside.