Authorities in Washington state suspect a single individual is behind a string of brutal cat killings that have left at least 13 animals dead.

The 13th cat was found dead on Thursday in Thurston County, near Olympia, Wash. Most of the cats have been found in public places and did not appear to have been killed by wild animals.

A cat found earlier this week had been surgically slit and laid out for people to see, according to a report by The New York Times. Authorities believe the killings are tied to a single individual.

In some cases, the felines’ spines were removed; some cats have been found dismembered, the publication reports. The methods used suggest an experienced killer.

“I feel for the animal owners because I’m an animal owner myself and just the manner these animals have died is extremely horrific.” Thurston County Animal Services officer Erika Johnson told KCPQ-TV earlier this month in relation to the seventh reported killing. Johnson said it appears a scalpel was used in the killings.

The mutilations have been occurring since February, according to a local animal sanctuary that is offering a $36,000 reward in relation to the case.

Most of the incidents have happened in August, the Times reports.

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Kathy Harrigan’s deaf, 20-year-old cat Harley was one of the victims of the killings, Harrigan told USA TODAY.

“He didn’t want to be indoors, so (he) lived in our yard. He was deaf and lacked muscle tone; disliked people but came to love my husband and myself, as we loved him,” she wrote.

“It is heartbreaking that he was killed and hurt in the way he was.”

Contributing: KING-TV, Seattle.

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