BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — BEVERLY — Six-month-old “Spooky,” a black and white tuxedo cat, did not go quietly or gently.
On Tuesday night, the kitten howled as it was dragged on an old dog leash through snowbanks and puddles, police say, by the son of its owner. Neighbors told police that the kitten’s rear legs — later found to be broken — were not moving.
When police confronted that man, Anthony Geyer, 21, the following afternoon, after the cat was found dead, his hands were covered in deep scratches.
Geyer claimed that Spooky died from “natural causes” and that the scratches and swelling on his hands were from a recent fight.
But Beverly police aren’t buying that story and have charged Geyer with animal cruelty. Geyer is now being held without bail, pending a hearing next week to determine whether his release poses a danger to the public.
“He’s a sick, sick person,” said Geyer’s mother, Cherie Brown, who found her kitten, frozen, in the kitchen sink when she returned home Wednesday morning after a brief hospital stay.
“He tortured him bad,” she said, struggling to hold back tears.
Police found a near-hysterical Brown when they arrived at her Cabot Street apartment early Wednesday afternoon in response to a 911 call.
Neighbors helped police piece the story together.
One woman, Crystal Russell, told police that she saw Geyer dragging the kitten around outside on Tuesday evening. It was “howling” and covered with ice, she told police. When she confronted Geyer, he told her that he had taken the kitten out to let it “poop.” She told him that cats use litter boxes and told him to take it inside.
Another neighbor, Chris Perkins, told officers he saw Geyer dragging the soaking-wet kitten up the stairs. Perkins told Geyer to pick up the cat, whose back legs weren’t moving, and carry it inside to get it warm.
A third neighbor, Michelle McGray, told officers that Geyer had knocked on her door earlier in the morning on Wednesday, holding the dead kitten. He told her it “wasn’t purring right.”
She called police. By the time they arrived, Geyer was gone and his mother had returned.
Police later called Geyer and asked him to go to the police station, where he denied abusing the kitten. He was arrested there shortly after noon.
Two of Geyer’s cousins, who accompanied Brown to court Thursday, said Geyer had been living in Chicago for a while before moving back a couple of months ago.
Brown, who on Thursday obtained a restraining order barring her son from any contact with her for a year, said she thinks her son hurt and then killed the cat to “get back at me.”
Earlier this month, Geyer was arrested on domestic abuse charges after an alleged assault on his mother in her apartment, where she had been allowing him to stay until he could find a place of his own.
On Thursday, she told a judge she’s terrified of her son now.
William Barabino, who represented Geyer during a brief court appearance, said he has concerns about whether his client is mentally competent but did not ask for an evaluation Thursday.
Prosecutor Lynsey Legier filed motions seeking to have Geyer held without bail in the animal cruelty case and to revoke his release in the earlier domestic abuse incident. A hearing on both requests is scheduled for Feb. 28.
Geyer will remain in custody at Middleton Jail at least until then.