A live kitten was found encased in solid concrete inside a metal tube in Colorado City, Arizona. The cat was discovered by a former member of the FLDS, Andrew Chatwin, who said the sect often uses dead cats as threatening message to former members.
Colorado City is a major center for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint (FLDS) polygamous sect. The sect split from the Mormon church early in the 20th century after a dispute over perpetuation of polygamous marriage.
The Huffington Post reports that the kitten was found on the property of Isaac Wyler, also a former FLDS member.
Chatwin, who discovered the trapped cat while he was building a horse shelter, told Right This Minute, in an interview posted online on Monday: “It’s been going on for years, and I’ve recorded up to a dozen dead cats put into his horse corral. I’ve recorded dead animals put into his truck.”
According to NY Daily News, the cement mixture in which the cat was encased was poured into a pole as part of a horse shelter construction work. Chatwin said: “We had poured these poles to do a shade for the horses and somebody had stuck a cat in this pipe. And the cat is now stuck in the concrete all the way up to its head."
According to MSNBC, Chatwin said dead cats have been found on ex-FLDS member Isaac Wyler's property in previous incidents. Wyler and Chatwin have both publicly spoken against the church and its former leader, Warren Jeffs. Chatwin said dead cats are placed on the property of former members to intimidate them and force them out of town. He said: “We’ve in the past experienced a lot of hostility from the FLDS. It was a message sent to Isaac Wyler to try and intimidate him.”
NY Daily News reports that Wyler broke with the church 13 years ago after he clashed with Warren Jeffs, leader of the church. Wyler refused to allow his 9-year-old daughter participate in the church's polygamous marriage process. According to CorrectionsOne.com, he said:"I told them if the Prophet tried anything, he would have to come through my baseball bat."
Jeffs was convicted last year of sexually assaulting underage girls and he is currently serving a life sentence.
The video, shot by Chatwin on May 31, and posted to YouTube on July 1, shows Chatwin and Wyler trying to rescue a cat buried up to the head in concrete. The video shows the cat crying in pain. According to Chatwin, he and Wyler had to cut through the metal tube and chip away bits of concrete from around the animal's body using a hammer.
The cat was in a poor condition when they rescued it, but it was still breathing. It was taken to an animal sanctuary in Kanab for treatment, but it died a few days later, MSNBC reports.
Chatwin said that he reported the incident to the Colorado City Marsal's Office. He alleged that the officer, "kind of chuckled and laughed a bit, and then he said that if it was up to him, he’d just throw dirt over [the cat]. And this is coming from a city marshal that’s in the FLDS Church.”
Trish Carter, public information specialist at the Mohave County Sheriff's Office told MSNBC that her office was informed of the incident on May 31, but did not respond because the case was under the jurisdiction of the Colorado City Marshal's Office. She said: “We often investigate cases of animal cruelty, but they were in charge of it, so we didn’t respond."
According to The Huffington Post, some weeks ago, the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against officials in Colorado City, and the neighboring town of Hildale, Utah, alleging civil rights violations. The cities were accused of denying ex-members and non-members of the FLDS church access to public services such as police services, housing and utilities.
The lawsuit, according to The Huffington Post, seeks damages for victims, fines against the towns and court orders that would prevent officials from harassing non-FLDS members.
Chatwin alleged that the Colorado City government is a "theocracy." He said: “They keep starving people right out of the community, too where they can’t get employment, they can’t get decent service. I can’t even use the Hildale clinic that (is) here. I have to travel a half-hour, 45 minutes just to get a doctor’s visit.”