BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – A California man is due in court Friday, accused of killing and eating cats.
Jason Louis Wilmert, 35, has pleaded not guilty to two charges -- cruelty to animals and using animals commonly kept as pets or companions as food, KBAK-TV reported, citing court documents.
Wilmert was arrested Feb. 7 at his home in Oildale, Calif., 3.3 miles (5.3km) north of Bakersfield in the Central Valley.
While it was not known what prompted the arrest, neighbors said they had heard sounds of a shrieking cat in the area.
"I heard a cat cry," Joe Nuno said. "It was a weird cry, real loud."
Nuno said when he went outside to investigate, he saw Wilmert firing up a burner.
"I smelled cooking. It smelled like some awful meat," he said.
Nuno added that a deputy later told him that Wilmert had been skinning cats alive and eating them.
"The cop said, 'Well, you know what, there's some strange things in that house. And, yeah, he's eating animals,'" Nuno said.
Supervising Deputy District Attorney Michael Yraceburn would not comment on the case, but he confirmed to The Bakersfield Californian that "the individual is being prosecuted for using cats as a food source."
Yraceburn added that there were no reports of missing pets.
Wilmert -- who also faces charges from a prior case -- was in custody, with bail set at $22,500. It was not known if the earlier charges, including resisting arrest, littering and "unauthorized nonagricultural burning," were related to animals.