Crime

Update: Uncle, nephew sought in fatal burning of cat from viral video

Police have obtained arrest warrants for a man and his nephew in the recent fatal scalding of a caged cat as shown in a video that went viral on social media.

Wanted are Larry Rostchild Jr., 43, and parolee Laderrick Rostchild, 24. The nephew is on parole for felony convictions of credit card fraud and absconding supervision, the Mississippi Department of Corrections website shows.

The men are sought on a charge of aggravated cruelty to an animal, Interim Moss Point Police Chief Brandon Ashley said in a news release.

The penalty for the charge is a $2,500 fine and/or six months in jail.

The charge is a misdemeanor, but it could send Laderrick Rostchild back to prison on a probation violation for his felony convictions in Jackson County. His release from parole is set for Feb. 27, the state prison website shows.

Anyone who knows of their whereabouts is asked to call the Moss Point Police Department at 228-475-1711. Ashley said the investigation continues.

It was the Rostchilds who burned the cat by pouring a hot liquid, possibly water, over a cage that confined the cat, Cmdr. Stacey Deans said Tuesday.

“We still don’t know who the cat belonged to,” Deans said. “We have thought it was a neighborhood cat but no one has claimed it.”

‘Disturbing and cruel’

The video shows one man kicking at the cage and another throwing a pot of liquid at the cage. The cat scrambles frantically in the small cage and cries loudly in pain.

District Attorney Tony Lawrence has described the video as “disturbing and cruel.”

A video going viral on Facebook appears to show a cat being scalded with hot liquid in Moss Point.

Police learned of the cat’s death after a woman posted a video of a black-and-white cat’s scalding Dec. 13 on Facebook. Her video went viral, with more than 22,000 likes and almost 530 shares.

Karmen Coleman, 23, removed the video from her Facebook page after learning she was wanted on an arrest warrant. She turned herself in Friday on a charge of rendering criminal assistance.

Police have said it was Coleman who recorded the crime at a home in the 6000 block of Henry Street. They believe she recorded the incident on SnapChat with a cellphone and then put it on Facebook. A concerned woman from Gulfport had posted a message asking if the cat was OK. Coleman reportedly replied, “The cat is alive n ok. I let the damn cat go ...”

Police found the house where the video was filmed and saw the cat in a nearby vacant lot, but it eluded animal-control officers. It apparently spent Dec. 13 under a house. The next day, an animal-rescue worker crawled under the house. The rescue worker found the cat dead, curled in a fetal position, and called an animal-control officer.

Police said a necropsy determined the cat died of burns over most of its body.

The assault on the cat and its death has drawn outrage in social media comments across the Mississippi Coast and beyond.

The story prompted a petition to call for tougher legislation on animal-cruelty laws.

A Pass Christian man offered a $1,000 reward last week for information leading to an arrest and conviction. The Humane Society of South Mississippi has sent Moss Point officials a letter to guarantee the man’s reward.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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