The alley behind a boarded-up former wig shop on the corner of Haywood Road and Louisiana Avenue, where Kitty’s mutilated body was found on October 27.
By DIANA STARR
Enquiring Minds continues to monitor this ongoing story.
* 10/22— Kitty the cat, member of the Aaron Naster family, goes missing from his West Asheville home
* 10/24— Graphic photos of Kitty being tortured and killed are posted to Instagram
* 10/24— Zackery Eugene Greene is arrested by Asheville Police SWAT Team for acting erratically in West Asheville; arrest unrelated to Kitty
* 10/25— Asheville Police state they have been informed by the public of Kitty’s torture, death and mutilation
* 10/27— Asheville Police question 3 cat killer suspects, but no arrests are made
* 10/27— Kitty’s mutilated body is found in an alley by Asheville Police after a tip from Veronica Coit, founder of Asheville Cat Weirdos
* 10/28— Asheville Police question 3 cat killer suspects, but no arrests are made; Kitty’s human is admonished by police for interfering in their investigation
* 10/28— Warrants are taken by Asheville Police for misdemeanor, civil infraction, improper burial of an animal— Jace Lee Greene and Shariah Jessamyn Metzger are arrested, bail is $1000 secured; Zackery Eugene Greene is unaccounted for
* 10/29— Unconfirmed but credible reports of dead kitten hanging by its neck on power line on Haywood Avenue just yards away from where Kitty was found mutilated
* 10/29— Bail is increased for J. Greene and Metzger from $1000 to $5000 secured
* 10/29— Bail is increased for J. Greene and Metzger from $5000 to $15,000 secured
* 10/29— J. Greene and Metzger are denied public defenders
* 10/30— District Court Judge Patricia Young grants public defenders for J. Greene and Metzger at the request of the public defender’s office
* 10/30— Zackery Greene remains at large; reported sighting at the K-mart on Patton Avenue; he continues to post to his Facebook page
* 10/30— Clerk of court’s office and detention center officers differ over amount of bond set and whether bond has actually been denied
* 11/01— Aaron Naster is informed by APD that the results of the necropsy performed on Kitty, to determine whether he was still alive when he was tortured and mutilated, have been received, but the results will not be released until toxicology results are in next week.
*11/03— The 2 suspects in custody are charged with one additional misdemeanor count (Class 1) of instigating cruelty to animals; bail is increased by $5,000.
* 11/10— Jace Greene’s bail reduced to 2K; Metzger’s bail remains 20K
* UPCOMING 11/14— Pretrial hearing for Jace Greene and Metzger, 9am, Buncombe County Courthouse, courtroom 1A
Grisly Instagram photos of people posing with a dead, mutilated cat led to separate arrests of three transients in West Asheville, as a second horrific cat killing was reported early Monday.
On Sunday night, the Asheville Police Department arrested Jace Lee Greene, 28, and Shariah Jessamyn Metzger, 26, in connection with the ritualistically mutilated cat, which was identified by microchip as “Kitty,” a registered cat belonging to the family of Aaron Naster, whose home is a few blocks of where the disturbing photos were reportedly taken — in an alley behind a boarded-up wig shop on the corner of Haywood Road and Louisiana Avenue.
A third individual, Zackery Eugene “Spoons” Greene, 30, who had been travelling with Jace Greene and Metzger, was arrested in the same neighborhood last week and charged with intoxication and disruptive behavior. Witnesses claim a fully equipped APD SWAT team arrived, surrounded Greene, kicked a sandwich from his hand, cuffed him, and hauled him off. It is not clear why APD would use a SWAT team to make a public drunkenness arrest. Greene was released on bond and given a December court date.
According to Veronica Coit, founder of Asheville Cat Weirdos, a nonprofit that helps with unexpected veterinary and food costs for WNC kitties in need, the Instagram photos of Kitty appeared online right before the group received warnings from concerned people in Charlotte, who had been tracking the Greenes and Metzger, that the trio might be headed to Asheville. Charlotte has experienced a rash of cat killings and maimings recently, and in July one Charlotte area cat was kidnapped and held for ransom.
Naster told Enquiring Minds that Kitty, who was adopted from Brother Wolf Animal Rescue two years ago, went missing on October 22. When Kitty didn’t come home the following day, the Naster family searched the area but could not find him. Naster had to leave town on a business trip, as his children continued to search for Kitty. When Naster returned on Friday he received a frantic message from his former wife, Melissa, that a friend who knew Kitty was missing had seen the graphic pictures and sent them to her.
On Saturday night, Coit, saw the three alleged cat killers and followed them until police arrived. While police questioned the three suspects, Coit told APD Detective Sgt. John Zeigler that she could identify the building in the Instagram photos and gave him directions to find the location. Coit said Zeigler called her back later that night and told her he had found Kitty’s body at the location she described and that a necropsy would be performed to determine whether the cat was alive when it was mutilated. Results of the necropsy are expected this week.
According to arrest warrants, Jace Greene and Metzger told police the cat belonged to them. They were charged with improper burial of an animal, a Class 3 misdemeanor, although APD spokesperson Christina Hallingse told Enquiring Minds that APD is now aware they were not the owners of the animal. Jace Greene and Metzger remain in the Buncombe County Jail under $15,000 secured bonds, which is up from $100 when they were first arrested and then $5000 the day after. (Update: Greene and Metzger were initially denied public defenders on October 29, but Buncombe County Public Defender LeAnn Melton filed a motion requesting they receive public counsel since they remained in custody, and the motion was granted by District Court Judge Patricia Young on October 30. Their next hearings are scheduled for November 14, with a trial date of December 6. The clerk of court’s office told Enquiring Minds Tuesday that bail for Greene and Metzger had been denied at their last hearing, but the city’s detention center said bail was still $15,000 secured. No explanation has been given for the conflicting accounts.)
On Sunday afternoon before Greene and Metzger were arrested, Naster connected with Marc Stone, a member of Asheville Cat Weirdos, and they got together to post flyers about the alleged cat killers to further warn the community to take extra steps to keep their cats safe. As they were flyering, Naster, a soft-spoken man, saw the alleged killers at Pritchard Park and tentatively approached them. He accused them of killing his cat, which they responded to by laughing in his face. APD was on scene and pulled Naster away and spoke to the alleged killers, but they did not make any arrests at that time. In fact, Naster said he was warned by APD to stop posting flyers or he could be sued for slander and admonished him for posting flyers that could interfere with their investigation. (Slander is verbal defamation; defamation in writing is libel. It is not clear whether Naster misheard or APD misspoke or was confused.)
Multiple reports on social media say a dead kitten was spotted early Monday hanging from a power line near Ingle’s Market on Haywood Road, across the street from where the first cat was found. These reports have not been officially confirmed, but Ashley Franklin reported the kitten to the police and is sure she saw a dead kitten hanging by its’ neck on the power line.
Meanwhile, Zackery Greene posted on his own Facebook page that Kitty was dead when he and his friends found him. “Threatening humans for desecrating road kill is out of line,” he said.
Zackery Greene’s 14 arrests in North Carolina include 5 driving while impaired arrests, hit/run leaving the scene with property damage, and on September 1, assault by strangulation. It is a Class H felony in North Carolina for any person “to maliciously torture, mutilate, maim, cruelly beat, disfigure, poison, or kill any animal.”
A misdemeanor warrant has now been issued for Zackery Greene’s arrest for improper burial of an animal, but he has not been located. On Tuesday there were unconfirmed sightings of him near K-Mart on Paton Avenue. At 11:16 a.m. Tuesday, Greene wrote on his Facebook page:
“ Omg this is getting rediculouse we found the cat like that I’m not a goddamn cat killer and where are these other cat killers that are in Asheville cause I’m not even there and apparently there are more cases of this popping up .they are probably the real cat killers we just happened to find the poor thing”
A man claiming to be a former friend of Jace Greene, Richardo Rodriguez, wrote on Facebook Tuesday:
“The cat mutilator Jace Lee Greene is scum! He was my friend until I found out he snitched on me for something he was apart of. I just recently was released from the Florida Department Of Corrections after serving 10 years. I have posted pictures of my case number for anyone to see if proof is needed. This is public records. He was always abusive to cats from what I seen myself. Dude is no good n like the old saying goes birds of a feather flock together.”
As for Kitty’s family, Aaron Naster, his children, 21-year old Charlie, 17-year old Sydney and 13-year old Griffin, and their mother Melissa, spent Sunday taking down their Halloween decorations and replacing them with a memorial flower garden for Kitty. “I’m just a regular guy who truly just fell in love with this cool cat. He was a very loved cat. We loved this cat. He loved everybody and that’s how his killers were able to take him from us.”