Petition for strict prosecution of suspected Orangevale cat killer garners 2,500 signatures

ORANGEVALE — An alleged cat killer returns to court on Thursday, November 17, but some neighbors are organizing early to demand that he be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

At present, the evidence supports only one case of cruelty. However, community members began to sound the alarm, connecting the dots on social media sites, after it was alleged that several other mutilated cats were found in the town around the same time; the cases they believe might be related.

As CBS13 previously reported, Orangevale neighbors have been involved in the case since 18-year-old Colin Lendewig was arrested for animal cruelty and petty theft in October 2022.

The neighbors hired a private investigator out of pocket, turned over evidence to the police and organized on social media.

Now they’ve circulated a petition throughout the community with over 2,500 signatures to send a message to the county’s chief prosecutor and the alleged cat killer himself. It was turned over to the district attorney’s office by a group of neighbors.

“We’re Orangevale. Don’t mess with us,” said neighbor Denise Triplett, who knows Lendewig personally.

This is the common mentality of those who live in the Orangevale community.

Home surveillance video obtained by CBS13 captured the moment Lendewig is accused of walking into an alley and stealing a neighbor’s pet cat in August who was never seen again. A second video catches Lendewig in the act again; take another cat on a second trip to the same house a month later. According to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office police report, this cat was found dead in a nearby yard.

cat-killer-ft-img.jpg

“I think it’s going to get worse, I mean these are the first signs of a serial killer,” Triplett said.

Court documents obtained by CBS13 reveal that the Sacramento County District Attorney believes Lendewig “willfully, unlawfully, maliciously, and intentionally mutilated, maimed, tortured, and injured a living animal, a brown and black cat named Rose.”

Rose is the cat shown in the second home surveillance video. The cat can be heard screaming and yelping in distress as it is carried out of the driveway, off camera a loud “snap” is heard, then silence ensues.

“If he’s not locked up, then justice won’t be done,” said a neighbor who asked CBS13 to remain anonymous.

Several concerned neighbors spoke to CBS13 on camera, but asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal. They also signed the petition that was delivered to the prosecutor’s office, asking for a solid case and that they take it seriously.

“We would like to see him prosecuted to the full extent of the law. We don’t want this to be abandoned for the sake of our animals, and for him too,” said a second neighbor.

“It’s going to be the main focus for all of us until something is done,” a third neighbor told CBS13.

For more context, CBS13 reached out to Emily Lewis, chief criminal justice program attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. She oversees and facilitates assistance in active criminal cases, working directly with law enforcement, prosecutors and rescue groups. She supports and trains frontline responders on writing search warrants, collecting and preserving evidence, and best practices for handling scenes.

“I think animal cruelty is taken more seriously than in the past,” Lewis said.
“Animal cruelty cases are difficult because you have a victim who cannot tell you in words what happened.”

Lewis says cases involving animals are complex and often there is less documented evidence.

“It’s the prosecutor’s job to be able to tell the story of what happened to this animal victim and bring in the experts who can talk about what we saw on the Ring camera, what happened off camera, injuries noted,” Lewis said.

According to ALDF research, the state of California ranks high for having strict animal cruelty laws. It ranks number 9 in the country.

Under California law, the maximum penalty for an animal cruelty conviction is 3 years in jail, a $20,000 fine, or both jail and a fine.

Additionally, California requires mandatory post-conviction counseling.

“Animal cruelty has a link, a well-documented link, with other interpersonal violence and violence against vulnerable populations like children and others,” Lewis said. “We want to address the root cause of what made this happen in the first place so there are no future victims,” ​​Lewis said.

Lewis admits that it’s rare for someone convicted of animal cruelty to get the maximum sentence for a first offence.

As this case progresses through the court system, neighbors are patiently waiting and working diligently to keep the spotlight on.

“We’ll be at all the court hearings. I’ll be at all of them,” Triplett said.

Lendewig was released on $25,000 bond. He is due to appear in court on the morning of November 17.

CBS13 reached out to Lendewig’s attorney and parents before this story was published. Both responded, declining a request for comment.