Southern England is now on high alert after a series of animal killings across the region—mostly in the form of beheadings—has rendered the original moniker, the Croydon Cat Killer, far too specific. The person is killing well outside the London borough of Croydon and claiming not just felines, but possibly foxes, rabbits, and birds, reports the Guardian. Reports on the number of confirmed mutilated cat corpses conflict somewhat, but the Independent says more than 40 have been found since October, and both it and the Guardian put the overall victim count in excess of 100. "It looks like the killer ... does what he does, then puts the cat back where he finds them. It is often right on people's doorsteps or driveways," says the co-founder of the South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty (SNARL) charity.
The RSPCA says its own post-mortem exams have determined "blunt force trauma" was the cause of death, with the mutilations—slashed neck or decapitation, slashed belly or organs removed, tail or leg severed—likely happening afterward. SNARL has been pushing the media to call the reaper the M25 Animal Killer, with M25 a reference to the 117-mile highway that nearly encircles London, as the mutilated animals have been found within and outside of it. PETA, for its part, has offered a roughly $7,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the killer, writing, "History shows that past incidents involving cruelty to animals regularly appear in the records of serial rapists and murderers." But the brutality has yet to slow; the Evening Standard reports two more cats may have fallen victim to the killer last week. (This serial bunny killer may have used Google Earth to track down rabbit hutches.)