The Mosta cat crucifixions: how they happened

With the so-called 'Mosta cat killer' finally caught and remanded in custody, Malta Today looks back on all the crucifixions over the last two and a half years.

The 'Mosta cat killer', captured here by CCTV footage in what proved to be his last excursion.
The 'Mosta cat killer', captured here by CCTV footage in what proved to be his last excursion.

It has been almost two and half years since the so-called ‘Mosta cat killer’ began his spree of animal crucifixions in areas - mostly religious locations - across his hometown.

Yesterday, after crucifying no less than eleven cats and three dogs, the perpetrator was tracked down by the police and remanded in custody.

Nicholas Grech, a 37-year-old engineer at Enemalta, was charged with the illegal killing of various animals, animal cruelty, violation of burial grounds, trespassing on religious grounds, forcing and entering, and vilifying the Catholic religion.

On his part, Grech argued that he never killed the animals.

Here, Malta Today looks back at the episodes which shaped Grech into becoming, at least for animal lovers, Malta’s public enemy number one.

October 16th 2011

The first incident involved the macabre crucifixion of a puppy, nailed to a wooden cross and hanging upside down on the door of a vacant residence in Main Street Mosta. A halo had been placed on the dog’s head, and a self-pitying note was left by the corpse.

The discovery was made by a local priest.

The initial theories centred on the fact that the house belonged to a certain Franġisku Buhagiar, then aged 81, who had shot his sister in that same house in 1999.

Buhagiar, who served a 10-year sentence for the murder, incessantly denied any involvement.

November 16th 2011

The second incident also involved the upside-down crucifying of a dog, this time a Chihuahua cross-breed .

The discovery was made at around 7.15 a.m., close to the gate of the Oratory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Mosta. A note was also found beside the dog, in which the perpetrator told of how his suffering had been worse than that suffered by the dog.

The fact that both incidents had occurred on the 16th day of the month had not gone unnoticed, but this fact was largely put down to coincidence.

January 16th 2012

This episode would be the first – of many – cases in which a cat was crucified. Hanging on a gate of a chapel in Triq San Anton Abbati in Mosta, the cat was found by a police patrol at around 3.45 a.m.

Unlike the two previous cases, though, there was no note at the scene. The ‘cat killer’ had skipped the month of December, but the fact that the three crucifixions had been committed on the 16th of the month was becoming a clear pattern.

February 10th 2012

Which is why it took people off-guard when the next one occurred when it did.

This corpse was found nailed to a wooden cross, left hanging on a door in Baskal Buhagiar Street.

The incident was reported to the police at 6.50 a.m.. It was the first case – and remained one of the few – in which the crucifixion was not carried out on the 16th of the month.

December 16th 2012

More than 10 months had gone by with no news of any crucifixions but this would prove to serve as a false hope.

The gruesome discovery of yet another crucified cat, found hanging on yet another upside down wooden cross, was reported to the police at about 8 a.m. The cross was fixed to a railing in front of the statue of St Joseph in Main Street.

A note was also pinned to this cat’s carcass.

January 16th 2013

A new year and a new cat crucifixion, this one found crucified to a piece of wood, hanging on the railings of a primary school in Mosta.

As police prevented school children from approaching the scene, the Malta Cat Club issued a bounty for the finding of the perpetrator.

February 23rd 2013

The following month, perhaps the most gruesome of discoveries was made when, at around 7.45 a.m., a cat’s tail a pair of cat’s legs were found hanging on an upside-down cross.

The cross was hung on the façade of a site previously-used by the ‘cat killer’, the San Anton Abbati chapel. The rest of the animal’s body was missing.

April 17th 2013

This crucified cat was found nailed to another wooden cross, this time attached to the railing surrounding a statue of Our Lady, close to Tower Road in Mosta.

September 16th 2013

In this case, eight cat paws were found tied to a crucifix, beside the same statue of Our Lady, in Mosta.

Police also confirmed that parts of cats’ carcasses were also found in Piazza Brittania, a few hours later.

October 16th 2013

In October of last year, two crucified cats were found close to the premises of the former garden-centre, Flower Power.

At the time, the police said that they believed the crucifier to be ‘killing and freezing’ the carcasses before displaying them in public.

February 3rd 2014

The last, and most revealing of episodes, occurred in February of this year – a month and a half before Grech’s arraignment.

Another cat was discovered crucified to the statue of St Philip outside the Mosta Church, whilst a dog was also found nearby.

CCTV footage from various cameras in the vicinity was released and used by the police to help identify the perpetrator.