Pet cruelty linked to potential serial killers

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The Independent Online

Scotland Yard is considering a scheme to identify violent criminals by monitoring the safety of their household pets.

Detectives want to establish a database of animals owned by suspected criminals to help them spot early signs of abusive behaviour. There is growing evidence that animal abusers go on to commit violent crimes.

Most of the research so far has been undertaken in the US, where a high proportion of violent offenders have been linked with animal abuse. They include some of America's most notorious killers: Jeffrey Dahmer, the "Milwaukee Cannibal"; and Albert DeSalvo, the "Boston Strangler".

Less research is available in Britain but it is known that, for example, Robert Thompson, one of the killers of Jamie Bulger, had spent time killing animals, while Fred West, as a youngster, would batter rabbits to death.

One of the "railway rapists", David Mulcahy, who was convicted earlier this year for three murders and seven rapes, was suspended from school when he was 13 for playing cricket using a hedgehog as a ball.