Harassed neighbor describes cat skinning, decapitation

Harassed neighbor describes cat skinning, decapitation
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — An Oildale woman wants the toughest possible charges filed against a neighbor who is accused of killing and eating cats.

Jason Wilmert had harassed her for months, Jourdan Thompson said Wednesday.

One day, she said she saw something that put the alleged harassment in a whole new light. She saw Wilmert with a tabby cat on the driveway between their houses, she said.

"I looked out my window one morning, and I saw him, like, skinning the cat," Thompson recalled.

She said it looked like Wilmert had a large steak knife or kitchen knife.

"I looked back, and I realized he was cutting down the backside of the animal, and I freaked out," Thompson said.

At that point, she turned away in disgust.

"And when I looked back, that's when he was decapitating the animal," Thompson said. "But it was all right here, in broad daylight." She pointed to a spot just in front of the small garage on Wilmert's driveway.

Eyewitness News has tried to speak with Wilmert, but he has declined out jailhouse interview requests.

As Eyewitness News first reported Monday, Wilmert, 35, now faces two charges in this case. One of them is described as "animals commonly kept as pets or companions; use as food."

Thompson said she did not see Wilmert eat any animal. But, after seeing the attack next door, she had immediately called the Kern County Sheriff's Office. Thompson said deputies came out, and investigated in Wilmert's house.

"They told me they found evidence of him eating the animals," Thompson told Eyewitness News. "And, I hear that he says he was."

Other neighbors said they believe Wilmert was burning cats in his backyard. Most said they frequently saw him starting fires.

From behind Thompson's house, there's a clear view of Wilmert's backyard over a short fence. Burned areas could be seen in the grass, there were piles of rocks and small bags hanging up with what appeared to be sticks inside.

Neighbors had described Wilmert as withdrawn, and walking down the street without looking at anyone. Thompson said that was the impression she got when she moved into her house in November.

"He's mumbling to himself, he's clearly disgruntled," she said.

And, Thompson said soon after that, she started to get frightened by his behavior. First, he took a branch from a tree in his yard and left it on her porch.

"He says, 'I notice that you don't have a Christmas tree in your living room,'" Thompson related. "It really scared me, because it means he was looking in my window."

Then, she said Wilmert started to harass her. She said one night she discovered her patio furniture in the backyard all stacked against the fence.

She said her small puppy also disappeared that night. She doesn't know if Wilmert was responsible for that.

Thompson said she tried to question Wilmert, but he wouldn't come out of the house.

Next, she came home and found a table and flower pots from the front of her house thrown into the street. She thinks Wilmert was responsible for that.

Thompson said she still thought Wilmert was "creepy," but mostly kept to himself. She didn't report the problems or call authorities.

She's horrified at what she eventually saw him do, and now she's relieved he's been arrested.

"I'm tired of crying and of being scared of him," Thompson said. "This is the first I've felt safe since I've lived in the house."

But, she's also worried at word that he faces only misdemeanor charges in the case.

"When you think of misdemeanor animal cruelty, you think of someone that ties up their dog to a tree in the summer," Thompson said. "Not someone that was decapitating and dismembering an animal."

Kern County Supervising Deputy District Attorney Mike Yraceburn told Eyewitness News, the law banning the eating of pets was enacted by the Legislature as a misdemeanor.

"That's what we're limited to," Yraceburn said. "That's what we have to charge."

He added that prosecutors review cases, and file charges that match the specific circumstances.

Yraceburn could not comment about the case, but indicated officers believe Wilmert was catching stray cats and eating them.

Wilmert also faces two previous misdemeanor charges. One is for "unauthorized nonagricultural burning," and the other for resisting arrest. There's also a charge pending against him for littering.

Thompson hopes Wilmert can face the stiffest possible charges, and that's why she's speaking out.

"I feel like my being brave and telling people how disgusting he is, if that would help the D.A. make the charge a felony, it would make me feel better," Thompson said.

Wilmert is in jail, and he's expected to be in court on Friday.