Police are one step closer to finally catching the notorious Croydon cat killer after locals came within inches of cornering the suspect.
The first description of the killer, who is believed to have murdered up to 300 pets, was released after residents in Caterham, Surrey, spotted a man “dumping” a dead feline in the garden.
The man, said to be in his 40s, and who has “acne scarring”, was chased through the town where several killings have been reported in recent weeks.
Since the first murder in 2014, police, pet owners and charities have been trying to locate the sadistic killer, who has claimed the lives of hundreds of cats — potentially even nationwide.
Boudicca Rising, from South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty (Snarl), said members of the public came with inches of catching the suspect.
She said: “Last week there was another killing in Caterham and it was the third one in a very small area of Caterham.
“A gentleman was seen in the garden where the cat’s body was placed and he was chased by members of the community.
“They called the police and the police got a dog unit down, but they didn’t find him. But on the basis of that and one other sighting, Surrey police released a description.”
The killer is described as between 5ft 7-5ft 8 and having short brown hair.
A Surrey Police spokesperson said: “A resident in Addison Road Caterham saw a male wearing a head torch and a backpack.
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“He ran off when seen. Residents ran after him. Police attended with a dog but no one was located.”
The sighting is being linked to an incident two days earlier when “a suspicious person” was seen trying to lure cats late at night.
The spokesperson said: “A cat bell was heard and then a “kissing” noise as though trying to attract an animal. The noises were heard twice.
“When the person was seen they hurried off. They were wearing all dark clothing and a dull light was seen — maybe a phone or a torch.”
Police said they are now trying to find CCTV which shows the incidents, but they are currently unable to build an e-fit image of the suspect
The Metropolitan Police launched Operation Takehe in November 2015 in response to a string of cat slayings across Croydon and south London. Many of the pets were found mutilated without heads and tails.
Animal charity PETA is offering a £10,000 reward to anyone with information which will lead to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator.
In a Facebook post, Snarl said: “Do not approach him or confront him (he may be completely innocent, plenty of people out there trying to rescue or help cats), just call the police and us and let us deal with it.”