Crime & Courts

Police discover decomposing cats, dogs inside Fox Lake couple's home

What began as a routine eviction led to an animal cruelty investigation after police discovered several decomposing cats and dogs inside a Fox Lake couple’s Hilltop Avenue home, according to a news release. The Lake County Sheriff’s Warrant Team on Tuesday arrested 33-year-old Cathryn N. Franke, and 38-year-old Thomas J. Gilhooly, who previously lived together in the zero to 100 block of Hilltop Avenue.

On Jan. 6, a Lake County sheriff’s deputy was enforcing a court-ordered eviction at the couple’s home when Franke tried to slam the door on an officer, according to a news release the sheriff’s department sent Wednesday.

The deputy entered the home and was “overcome by an extraordinarily foul odor,” according to the release. The officer found Gilhooly inside the home, and told both residents to leave the property.

Inside, the home was “covered in animal urine and feces,” according to the release. The deputy found the bodies of five dogs, all in different stages of decomposition inside the home, and two cats in advanced stages of decomposition.   

The Lake County sheriff’s deputies had been to the house a number of times toward the end of 2018, Public Information Officer Christopher Covelli said in an email Wednesday.

“Each time they went, the windows were closed and there were drapes covering the windows, preventing anyone to see inside,” Covelli said.

Officers didn’t notice any unusual smells outside of the house, he said. It wasn’t until the date of the eviction and entering the home that “they were struck with the horrific smell,” Covelli said.

“Some of the animals were in advanced decomposition and had likely been deceased for several months,” Covelli said. “The deputy could observe exposed bones on some of the deceased pets.”

The exact causes of death were not immediately clear, but autopsies determined the animals likely died from abuse or neglect, Fox Lake Police Chief Jimmy Lee said.

“It’s not a pleasant site to see, and it’s completely unnecessary,” Lee said.

Fox Lake police and village authorities worked together to continue the investigation, which resulted in the couple’s arrest in the 8900 block of David Place, Des Plaines, according to the release. Each was charged with multiple felony counts of animal cruelty.

Both Franke and Gilhooly remained at the Lake County Jail on Wednesday morning on $100,000 bonds each. Both are scheduled to make court appearances at 9 a.m. Friday.

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