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Couple on crusade to find cat-killer 
Palm Beach Post 
Scott McCabe
April 18th, 2004

     (CTC comment:  This is not the first investigation we have done for the Palm Beach Cat Rescue and Humane Society.)  

     TJ and Neil Fisher hired an ex-CIA agent and offered $10,000.00 to find the person who's shooting and killing cats with a high-powered pellet gun. 

But that's not enough in the pricey neighborhood on the 100 block of Seminole Avenue, where mansions go for millions.  Now, the couple has upped the offer to $25,000.   

    
They hope someone will offer information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who pumped three pellets into Karuki, the one-eyed orange tomcat the Fishers adopted last year.  

     Karuki survived, but a neighbor's cat didn't.  Other cats, many of whom have been saved and neutered under the town's feral cat program, have disappeared, the Fishers say. 

     "This is Palm Beach's dirty little secret," said Neil Fisher, a hotel developer.  "And someone has to stop it." 

     In May, a 6-year-old Siamese cat named Caruso was show with a high-powered pellet gun whole it followed its owner, Catherine Bradley, founder of the Palm Beach Cat Rescue and Humane Society.  Bradley and Caruso were two doors down from the Fishers when Caruso jumped into the air.  The pellet severed Caruso's spine and paralyzed his hind legs, and he was euthanized.  

     In both cases, law enforcement officers investigated the neighbor two houses from the Fishers, bank owner Charles Gerlach, 75.  But the state attorney's office declined to arrest him because there wasn't enough evidence to convict, according to court records.  In taped conversations with a private investigator, Gerlach admitted to using a pellet gun to ward off cats that wandered onto his property, according to police affidavits.

     "Oh, yeah, I just got one tonight," he told the private eye, according to the affidavits.  

     "Gerlach lives directly behind Bradley, who for 15 years ran the Palm Beach Cat Rescue, a small-scale trap, neuter and release program until the town arrested her for felony trespassing.  The town began capturing and killing feral cats -- killing 50 in three months -- before it reversed itself and adopted Bradley's idea, establishing its own nonprofit group to neuter, release and sometimes relocate the town's free-roaming cats.  

     In December, Gerlach told Detective Cassie Kovacs of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office animal cruelty unit that he hated cats but he didn't shoot them, according to her report.  During teh interview at Gerlach's home, Kovacs saw a small box of BB pellets on his desk, the same kind recovered from Caruso's body, her report said.  

     Gerlach was not available this weekend, but his wife, Betty, said her husband was just being a smart aleck.  

     "We have no cats," she said, "but we haven't any guns."  

     In January, the Fishers found that Karuki had been shot after they noticed the cat was breathing shallowly.  X-Rays found the three pellets:  One is lodged deep in the cat's lungs, the pther two are at the spine.  

     This is not the first time the Fishers have offered a reward to find a cat killer.  In 1998, TJ Fisher, who once described herself in Florida society pages as an actress, director, real estate developer and author of an unpublished novel, The Pearly Gates of Purgatory, offered $10,000 to find the person who poisoned 10 cats and two dogs with antifreeze.  

     That animal killer has moved away, TJ Fisher said.  

     Anyone with information about the cat shootings can call 714-9992.

     "This is my family," TJ Fisher said.  "You touch my cat or dog or husband, I want there to be consequences."    

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