Tragedy in Lexington County, SC: 72-year-old feral colony caregiver killed during dispute over cats

A Lexington County, South Carolina feral colony caregiver was shot to death Thursday evening by a man when an argument over the cats turned violent. The accused claimed that he was acting defensively (see update).

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Sean Eric Malahy (Lexington County, SC PD)

The tragedy took place on Main Street in Lexington where Gilbert resident Judy Dyanne Burnett, 72 was shot in the face during an argument. Police were called to the scene around 5:40 p.m. Burnett initially argued with a witness who was with Malahy. Malahy then argued with Burnett.

Burnett was near the fence line behind Town Square shopping center. Forty-nine-year-old Sean Eric Malahy was found at the scene with a gun and charged with murder and possession of a firearm during a violent crime.

Lexington Police Department Chief Terrence Green announced in a press release that

“Through the investigation, it was found that Judy Burnett and Sean Malahy had known each other for a number of years and that they had ongoing disagreements about their own involvement in the feeding, trapping, and releasing of feral cats that are known to live behind businesses in the wooded areas along West Main Street.”

Officers began rendering aid until EMS arrived. Lexington County Coroner’s Office announced Gilbert was pronounced dead upon arrival at an area hospital after being transported from the scene after suffering a gunshot wound to the face.

murder scene

The murder scene in Lexington, SC

Update Dec 1, 2021: Bond denied for man accused of murdering 72-year-old woman during argument about feral cats. Yes, that is a headline. He was denied bail as we call it in the UK. Flight risk, I guess.

This case is made even more disturbing since Mahaly and Burnett were both feeding the feral cats (according to Action News Jax).  Mahaly failed to give a statement to police and remains in jail as of Friday evening.

The case is still under investigation. I’ve done a bit of snooping since posting this article and one person commented Burnett fed the cats behind the businesses. Another person stated Mahaly was the one feeding the cats. What a mess!

Anyone with additional information (not gossip), please leave a comment. I’ll be keeping watch myself for more information.

Update from Michael: Sean Eric Malahy was refused bail (bond) yesterday having been charged with murder and possession of a weapon. He said that he was unemployed and that he receives $700 a month in disability. As mentioned by Elisa, it is reported that the dispute was over how to care for the feral cats. The topic of the argument is unknown. They had clashed before. Malahy refused to speak to detectives. However, in court on Friday he said that the shooting was defensive i.e. he acted in self defence it seems to me. He said:

I was attacked. I was punched in the face. I had nowhere to retreat.

He kept his head down during the three-minute hearing at the Lexington County bond court. He is due back in court on fourth February for another hearing.

This is a Facebook post by Malahy:

Posted by Sean Malahy on Thursday, December 3, 2020

Source Fox Carolina News, Facebook: Lexington County Coroner’s Office, Action News Jax.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.
Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

Elisa Black-Taylor

Elisa is an experienced cat caretaker and rescuer. She lives in the US. As well as being a professional photographer, Elisa has been a regular contributor to PoC for nine years. See her Facebook page.

You may also like...

9 Responses

  1. tamara beinlich says:

    I looked for a update but couldn’t find anything. I hope someone went to her house and saved the other cats she had, I couldn’t find anything about that either. One of your posters said she had about 100 cats in cages.

  2. Anonymous says:

    He bonded out 12/30/21. His mother posted his bail. $5000 was set so he got out and has been out for $500 and she lost her life.

  3. Concerned Citizen says:

    Judy came out to our yard the week before to Trap/Neuter/Spay 13 feral cats that live in this area. We talked for hours as she trapped the cats, and I got to know her. I told her I have been feeding them regular dry cat food so they would have good food, and not become a nuisance to others by digging in trash. (people can be cruel if the cats become a nuisance). I mentioned I didn’t want them digging chicken bones out of trash bins because that was liable to harm them (choking). She agreed & said she feeds kibble to the stray colonies on her route around Lexington for that very reason (it is her job), and she said there was one person behind the Shopping Plaza who kept feeding the cat colony there a lot of poor quality garbage with bones in it, and she had asked him to stop & he still kept doing it. Then a little over a week later I hear he shot her dead. It was a shock, because she was not the type of woman who seemed like she would start a fight with anybody. She was a tiny old lady…very short & skinny & frail. When I read that the ‘witness’ reported they were fighting…well, I found it very hard to believe. Maybe arguing…but not fighting. Unfortunately the ‘witness’ was rumored to be the friend of the guy who shot her?? Long story short…she was unarmed & even if she was arguing…that is no reason to use lethal force. I hope they lock the hateful killer up for good.

  4. Carol Brandt says:

    It is impossible to know the truth. Praying for the cats, the innocent victims. My heart breaks for them.

  5. Barbara says:

    Kindly keep us updated on his fate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *