I have been following Sage’s torture and murder for several months and think about Sage every day. The more I think about what happened to him and the circumstances around his short life the more unanswered questions come to mind. The official stance of the law enforcement community in Clearfield, Utah is that they have exhausted all resources and have officially proclaimed the worst case of torture and abuse ever seen in Utah as inactive.
There are at least a couple of social media groups that are trying to keep his memory alive and encourage someone to come forward with information to reopen the investigation into this heinous crime. The latest response from the Davis County Animal Care and Control recommended discussing the case in social media.
It is my understanding that Sage left the Gomez house on a Friday night and did not return as usual on Saturday morning. China Rose Cassel stated that they found Sage at the bottom of the stairs four days later on Wednesday morning at approximately 6:30 AM after he had been tortured.
I fully understand that not all cat owners love their cats and would not be aware if their cat was missing for four days especially if he was an outdoor cat like a barn cat. I also understand that some indoor/outdoor tomcats may stay out an extra day or two but China stated that Sage was “one of the lights in our lives” and “like a member of the family”. The first question that comes into my mind is what was the family doing to find Sage for the four days that he was missing? If a member of the family was gone for more than a day or two, I would think that scouting the neighborhood, questioning neighbors, flyers, and even a Facebook post would be typical responses. The only comment that I have heard is that they thought he was just out doing his thing. Does that response really ring true for “one of the lights of our lives” and “member of the family” missing for 4 days?
Sage was tortured and not killed outright which is a huge issue to me. If Sage was a pest or someone was just trying to get even with the family like suggested by others, I would think that killing him outright would be considerably simpler and pose less risk to the perpetrator than 4 days of torture. I say that because capturing and containing an outdoor cat poses exponentially more complexity than a simple murder.
If Sage was tortured and killed for being a pest to one of the neighbors, wouldn’t it seem logical that the neighbor would at least try to scare him off first by throwing something at him or other means of frightening him off first? That is the easiest and most convenient approach to a pest. That would make Sage real suspicious and extremely difficult to catch. How many of us have tried to catch/pet/pick up a friendly neighborly cat and found it impossible? How many cat owners have tried to catch their own housecat after it has gotten out and been unsuccessful? In many cases that I have been familiar with, capturing a cat took special equipment like a live trap and LOTS of patience. If someone was trying to “get even” with the family, capturing Sage would have been a difficult task even if they were not being concerned about being noticed. Does anyone have any suggestions about how to catch a cat without being noticed?
Sage was 6 years old and had survived on the streets by being street smart. If Sage was a pest, why not just kill him and dispose of the body? Why the 4 days of torture? The torture was not a pest issue. The torture is a sick psychological personal issue. People that don’t own cats find the theory that a neighbor, gang member, or stranger could be responsible easy to believe but I am again really skeptical. I don’t want to say that capturing Sage would have been impossible but it would be extremely challenging without making “friends” first and that would have drawn attention to someone that would like to be $63,000 richer.
I guess on other potential scenario that should not be overlooked is that Sage was delivered by someone that Sage was familiar with to someone else for the “revenge” and then returned.
OK now let’s assume that someone captured Sage with the intent to torture him. Where and how does one contain a tomcat for 4 days of torture without being noticed? Sage will not be happy about being contained so one must have a room or building to hold him that will be somewhat private unless others that are aware of what is going, don’t care, or are participating. Sage would have been somewhat vocal by hissing, growling, and screaming. He was being held for four days so urine and feces and the resulting smell and disposal would also have been a problem. The waste would also have left a residue. There were several accounts of his fur being cut or shaved. I doubt seriously that a litter box was used so paper towels and cleaning materials would have been required. Wouldn’t the urine, fecal waste material, and fur loss have been opportunities for investigators to discover evidence?? The whole area must have been a smelly mess. It was probably a smelly mess before the hot glue gun and silicone were used to try and plug him up as the sick bastard(s) tortured the poor defenseless guy. Even cleaning solutions will leave a residue as all cat owners have discovered. All of the above probably were not accomplished in a kitchen or family room so the search areas are seriously reduced.
It was reported that a hot glue gun was used on his eyes, rectum, and genitals. I remember the first time I was involved with taking the rectal temperature of a sick cat. The vet was very concerned about controlling the cat’s head so it couldn’t bite because the vet stated that a cat’s bite could be very serious. A cat’s bite is not the only thing to be concerned about. When a cat fights back it not only uses its front claws but can be very dangerous and frequently engages the rear claws with a significant amount of agility and force. I rarely escape damage even with friendly play fighting and usually retreat with bloody scars in a blink of an eye. If someone was going to torture a grown tomcat with hot glue to the rectum, genitals, and eyes it would require assistance and leather gloves up to the armpits along with some sort of restraint more significant than a simple black leather collar. An opportunity for more evidence? Was there more than one person involved? I guess not because law enforcement only has one person of interest (sarc) after reviewing the hundreds of leads provided by the $63,000 reward fund that ultimately proved to be totally ineffective. Was the person of interest (POI) checked for any bites or scratches? Were any gloves found? Any means of restraint like a cage, box, or rope that might have blood, glue, or silicone residue? A convenient club of some sort with residue on it? Nope… just a strange leather collar.
Now one might say that he was beaten until he couldn’t fight back. A cat will not cower and stop fighting. PERIOD. This is also a cat that allegedly was healthy enough to returned home by crawling home, hopping a fence, crawling through the yard and dog door and down some steps. If this is true, he didn’t stop fighting.
Now for the silicone in the fur. The most common household source of silicone is in the form of caulking that is purchased in a tube and requires a caulking gun to dispense. I doubt that a full tube was used so there must have been a partial tube (evidence?) for disposal. Every time that I have tried to use a caulking gun it usually resulted in some residual pressure pushing out some caulk even after I released the pressure and I needed a paper towel to wipe it off and set the gun down on to catch what dribbles out. A messy operation even without dealing with a pissed off cat. How was the silicone spread on his fur? Did he/they use their hands or was gloves, paper towels, etc. used? The silicone did not dry immediately so some must have rubbed off of his fur wherever he was contained. If he was shaved or had fur cut off after the silicone was applied, the cut fur with silicone residue would have stuck rather securely to whatever it touched. Well I guess the perp(s) cleaned up and threw the evidence in the trash. Investigators sure hate it when the bad guys are so tricky with potential evidence.
To be continued………………………………………….