Previous owner of cat strangled to death: ‘He wasn’t just a cat to me, he was my family’

Posted at 6:21 PM, Jul 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-15 15:37:22-04

Virginia Beach, Va. – A family’s beloved cat ran away, but before they could get him back, they say the cat was dead.

Police say he was strangled to death by two Navy sailors Justin Page and Cody Gerarden. Now, the father of that family, Matt Morin, can’t feel anything but regret.

“That’s the hardest part,” Morin said. “I feel responsible because I wasn’t able to get him back.”

Matt Morin and his family with Pirate the cat.

Morin says if he could only turn back time he would have done anything to get Pirate back. Morin says he adopted Pirate and his brother Spartan back in 2011, but when he went on a 6-month deployment in 2014, Pirate ran away. He says animal control had picked up Pirate but Morin says the fees to bring Pirate back home was too much money.

“I showed up and of course, there is fines and fees and due to personal events, I just couldn’t afford it,” Morin said.

He says while he was trying to get that money, Pirate was adopted out to Justin Page. Two months later, Pirate was dead.

“It was absolutely gut wrenching,” Morin added. “All you can do is cry.”

NewsChannel 3 learned more about what happened to Pirate in Virginia Beach court two weeks ago as Page and Gerarden had their preliminary hearing.

There, an animal control officer testified she began investigating after a complaint made by Page’s neighbor. That officer testified she found Pirate dead, hidden under a pile of leaves on a property near Page’s apartment.

She told the judge she also found an orange cord she believed was used to strangle the cat. She testified that Gerarden admitted to pulling the cord until Pirate died, while Page held him.

A veterinarian, who also testified in court, told the judge because of the swelling of the tissue on Pirate’s neck, it was a slow death.

These were all details Morin didn’t know until NewsChannel 3 told him.

“It angers me. It really does,” Morin said. “To hear somebody could do that, it just angers me.”

A Grand Jury officially indicted Page and Gerarden this week. A date hasn’t been set for their trial.

“I take it to heart because he wasn’t just a cat to me,” Morin said. “He was my family.”


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