SALISBURY, N.C. -- It’s pretty easy to see the love Salisbury resident Cherie Smith has for her newest kitten, Ninja, as they cuddle on the couch in the living room.
“We just adopted her from the pound about a month ago,” Smith says.
But there’s a hint of sadness in her voice when she describes her late cat, Mollie.
“We got Mollie from a church parking lot 10 years ago. She slept with us all night, always in your lap. We don’t have children, she was like a child to us. So she was what we lavished our attention on,” she says.
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The black cat had been outside over the weekend, like any other day. But Smith noticed her other cats were sniffing around the front porch so she went over to check it out.
“I found her right over here, right where there’s a space,” she recalls, voice quivering. She's pointing between two bushes.
Something was very wrong. Mollie wasn’t moving.
“She was laid down, her head turned. I could see blood coming out of her mouth, and blood coming out of her legs,” Smith says. Mollie had been shot with a bow and arrow. “Went to pick her up and I realized she was impaled by an arrow.”
Smith quickly rushed her cat to the vet but because of the blood loss, it was too late.
“I had no options. She was suffering and bleeding. [The vet] recommended I put her down,” she says.
That afternoon, filled with rage, Smith went on the hunt herself for Mollie’s killer. Back at home she noticed a truck where two men has been hunting earlier in the day. She confronted one of them.
“He denied it. [Joshua] Phillips. He denied it. He said he had pets and would never do something like that,” Smith says.
But once the deputy searched the truck and discovered the same brand of arrows inside that were used to kill Mollie, Joshua Phillips confessed to the whole thing and was arrested. A small victory for Smith, but not enough.
“Obviously you can’t bring Mollie back. I’d like to see his hunting privileges taken away for life,” she says.
Phillips has since been released on a $1,000 bond.
Mollie's owners have started a Facebook page that will follow the legal proceedings from start to finish. Click here to visit it.