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Dozens of dead cats  found in van at Elgin home

ElgAnimal Control Officers James Rog (left) Matt Ciesielczyk load three captured cats Sept. 26 William Tinkler's home. The cats found

Elgin Animal Control Officers James Rog (left) and Matt Ciesielczyk load three captured cats Sept. 26 at William Tinkler's home. The cats found alive were to be evaluated by a veterinarian, officials said. | Janelle Walker~For Sun-Times Media

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An Elgin man was charged with animal cruelty after police removed 40-to 60 dead cats from a construction van, officials said.

William C. Tinkler, 60, was charged with misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals, violations of owners duties, and violation of dead animal disposal act, police said.

The van was parked near Tinkler’s home in the 200 block of Villa Street.

The dead animals will be tested for cause of death and another five live cats were captured and taken away. They will be checked out by a veterinarian, said Animal Control Officer James Rog, who said he would return later to capture several other cats that were wandering inside and outside of the home.

Police were called to the home after city contractors cutting the home’s lawn discovered the van Tuesday, said police Lt. Dan O’Shea. The contractors could clearly see boxes in the van loaded with dead cats, O’Shea said.

Neighbors said the man allegedly had dozens of cats that roamed inside and outside the Italianate-style house, and that he blamed his neighbors when any of them disappeared.

“One cat ran away, and I don’t know how he even knew,” because of the number of cats they saw regularly, said Sabrina Patrick, who has lived across the driveway for the past six months.

Tinkler reportedly “knocked on my neighbor’s door, said he’d kill them, and she didn’t even have his cat,” Patrick said.

At least one cat was hit by a car in the street, she added.

“He acted like a psycho neighbor from hell,” she said.

The suspect was cooperating with police as they removed the animals, O’Shea said.

Elgin has sent contractors to mow the home’s lawn before, said Vince Cuchetto, code enforcement manager. Tuesday’s cutting was the second one this year. The mowing is ordered if a lawn is taller than 8 inches and the homeowner does not comply with previous requests to mow, he said. When the city comes in to mow a lawn, the cost is charged back to the homeowner.

The city has a history with the home’s owner, officials said.

On Monday, Elgin obtained a court order against the homeowner, identified as Penny Knuth, which allows the city to spend up to $4,000 to fix some of the historic home’s exterior code issues. Knuth would be responsible for repaying the city, according to the order signed by Kane County Judge Kathryn D. Karayannis.

Tinkler stayed at the home.

From the street, the front steps are noticeably deteriorating, and the roof has gaps in the wood, showing through to the attic space below.

This is the second time Elgin has taken Knuth to court over the repairs, Cuchetto said.

In 2009, however, Knuth said the property was being foreclosed, so the city dropped the case. That foreclosure was never finalized, he said.

In addition to the court order, the homeowner was notified she had 24 hours to clean up the home’s interior or it will be “red-tagged” and condemned, Cuchetto said.

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