Video: 'Cat lady' may face new animal-neglect charges in Plymouth
A woman dubbed the “cat lady,” after 60 dead cats were seized from her Beacon Hill apartment six years ago is expected to face new animal-neglect charges after police found three dead cats in her freezer and refrigerator.
Police officers and the town’s animal control officer went to Heidi Erickson’s Lothrop Street apartment Wednesday and removed eight live cats in various stages of neglect, and a Great Dane, police said.
While police were removing the animals, Erickson was in Plymouth District Court, acting as her own attorney in an ongoing dispute with her landlord over her animals.
“We do foresee charges once the investigation is complete,” Plymouth police Capt. John Rogers said. “We’re still not sure we have all the animals from the apartment. There may be a few more cats running around.”
Firefighters used a ladder to get into Erickson’s second floor apartment to avoid breaking down the door.
Police officers went through a window and opened up the apartment for Animal Control Officer William McCusker.
Plymouth police will work with Animal Rescue League officials to evaluate the animals’ conditions and determine what charges Erickson will face.
Erickson was dubbed the ‘‘cat lady,’’ after 60 dead cats were seized from her Beacon Hill apartment six years ago.
Police obtained a court order to remove the live animals Wednesday after finding the three dead cats on Tuesday.
Emil Ward, the attorney for landlord Rose Geller, 91, has been trying to evict Erickson and several weeks ago asked the court to remove Erickson’s animals from the apartment because of the odor problems.
At the hearing on the landlord’s petition in Housing Court Wednesday, town Health Agent Susan Merrifield testified about the numerous odor complaints filed on Erickson’s apartment.
She also detailed what she saw Tuesday when investigating the odor complaint that led to the discovery of the dead cats.
Merrifield said she and police found filthy conditions with animal feces strewn about.
They pulled two dead cats from the freezer and another, wrapped in a blood-soaked baby blanket from the refrigerator, she said. Two of the cats appeared to be mutilated, she said.
Merrifield was allowed to show photos taken Tuesday that showed feces, hairballs and urine stains on the floor. Litter boxes were relatively clean.
Merrifield described the apartment as “cluttered, unorganized, messy, dirty.”
“The odors we were smelling were not coming from the cat box,” Merrifield said. “The cat boxes were not the sole source of the odor.”
Erickson, who represented herself at the hearing, argued that the photos should not be viewed in court because of the circumstances in which her apartment was searched. She objected to most of the photographs being entered into evidence. She called the photographs of one mutilated cat, “inflammatory, perverse, and excessive.”
“You have no idea,” Erickson said. “Maybe this cat had surgery.”
She also denied there were dead cats in the freezer, and said the entire incident was retaliation for lawsuits she filed against Plymouth police for entering her apartment during a previous incident and the trial courts for not allowing her to bring a dog that she claims is a service dog to court.
On Tuesday, police said Erickson told them that the cats were in the freezer because the ground was too frozen to give them a proper burial.
Erickson’s friend Peter Karpowicz, who was at the hearing, said the courts, police, and other law enforcement agencies were conspiring against Erickson because Geller has powerful friends in high places.
Mike Ryde, a previous tenant, said he moved out in January because of the foul odors from Erickson’s apartment.
He and other tenants filed numerous complaints for nearly a year because of the foul odor and the overpowering smell of disinfectants Erickson used to clean up when ordered to by Merrifield.
Erickson went home during a court break after learning that police were seizing her animals. She returned to court before the animals were removed.