Oildale man accused of killing, eating cats

Oildale man accused of killing, eating cats
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — An Oildale man is behind bars, accused of killing and eating cats. One report from a neighbor even has him skinning a cat alive.

Eyewitness News has learned that 35-year-old Jason Wilmert was arrested on two counts. A check of the Kern County Superior Court website shows one count of cruelty to animals. He also faces one charge of "animals commonly kept as pets or companions; use as food."

Neighbors reacted Monday, saying they heard suspicious noises at Wilmert's home, and one woman reportedly saw Wilmert's alleged actions.

"The lady right here saw him holding a tail, skinning it. It is still alive," neighbor Joe Nuno said. He pointed to the house on Wilson Avenue next to where neighbors say Wilmert lives.

Nuno lives two doors down. He said it was a couple weeks ago that he heard a horrible noise at Wilmert's home.

"I heard a cat cry really, really loud," Nuno said. "And I came outside, because I'm an animal lover."

Nuno said he looked into Wilmert's backyard, and he believes he saw a fire going.

"He's cooking. He's got a little burner going," Nuno said.

And it smelled horrible, like "awful meat."

But it was the woman right next door who apparently gave Kern County Sheriff's deputies more information. Nuno said he heard about that, when the officer came and asked what he'd seen.

"The cop said, 'Well, you know what, there's some strange things in that house. And yeah, he's eating animals.'" Nuno recalled.

One house over from Wilmert's to the east, Steven Poe said a deputy also knocked on his door asking questions.

"He asked if I had noticed anything suspicious, or weird that was happening next door, if I had any animals missing," Poe remembered.

When Eyewitness News told Poe about the current charges against his neighbor, he was shocked.

"He was eating animals? No way," Poe said.

Eyewitness News has learned investigators believe Wilmert had been capturing stray cats and using them as a food source. Officers have no information about any lost or missing pet cats.

Eyewitness News tried to contact Wilmert's family members. A woman reached by phone wouldn't give her name and said she'd "look into what happened." The woman disconnected the call when told details of the charges.

Several neighbors said Wilmert mostly kept to himself. He wasn't seen very often, except to walk to the store.

"He walks up and down the street with a cup, like this," Nuno said, describing Wilmert with a cup held to his chest. "He will not look this way or that way, just straight ahead."

Other neighbors said Wilmert would often set fires in his backyard.

That's what Poe had seen from his home just to the east. But, he didn't see anything else suspicious until the deputy came to ask questions.

On that day, Poe saw Wilmert outside near a patrol car, already in handcuffs. Like other neighbors, he's shocked.

"I've seen him burning stuff in the backyard," Poe said. "But no suspicions. I would never have assumed anything like that."

Wilmert is set to be in court on the charges Friday.