Grandchildren Fail To Clean Rooms . . . So Grandmother Kills Their Cat and Four Kittens With Hammer

josephine-bellThere is a deeply disturbing case of Illinois where Josephine Bell, 71, is accused of killing her granddaughter’s cat and four kittens with a hammer to teach her grand kids a lesson for not cleaning their rooms. The case again raises the question of the proper punishment for cruelty to animals separate from the obvious abuse of this 13-year-old child.

The trauma for the granddaughter must have been incredible when she opened a freezer to retrieve a snack only to find the dead bodies of her cat and kittens. She texted a relative and police were called.

When police arrived, Bell explained that the kids refused to clean their rooms so she apparently considered massacring all of the pets in the house to be a proper and logical response.

She is charged with Aggravated Animal Cruelty. Illinois has one of the more protective laws but it is still only 1-3 years in jail. However, the police say that, given her lack of criminal history, she will be likely allowed to walk with a fine and probation. I am surprised that she was not also charged with child abuse in this circumstance. I find it astonishing that she could savagely kill these animals and torment these children and not spend time in jail.

Notably, the week before the family dog was taken from the home out of concern for its well-being.

What do you think? Is probation enough? Should her age be a determinative factor in avoiding jail time?

38 thoughts on “Grandchildren Fail To Clean Rooms . . . So Grandmother Kills Their Cat and Four Kittens With Hammer”

  1. I once asked an Animal Control Officer why he wore a gun? He told me it was quite common to find animal abusers also abusing other people including children.

  2. These were pets, not livestock, and you don’t even kill livestock with a hammer.

    This lady sounds like a psychopath. I hope she is never alone with a child again and barred from owning animals. That’s one of those memories that can haunt this poor child.

    Was she raising her grandkids, or there to babysit? Since she complained about taking care of the cats, I suspect she was the primary caregiver. My prayers go out to the kids that they find a safe and loving home.

  3. I agree completely with Nick Spinelli. No jail time. If we jail people like this we will have to start adding on nursing home wings to prisons at great expense to the public, with negligible return on their investment. I was shocked that nothing was spoken of about the children. That should absolutely be addressed. No unsupervised contact until deemed fit. This sends a loud and clear message to the children that they will be protected from Grandma and that Grandma’s actions CAN be reigned in, vis a vis her ability to see her grandchildren.

  4. Not sure what this grandma should require as punishment…she is obviously demented and at her core, evil. Humans have the power to know right from wrong. Whatever is determined, she should never be allowed near children or small (e.g., defenseless) animals. If that means incarceration in an institution or prison, so be it. The story itself is a sad testimony to human aberration.

  5. DBQ … very glad you made exception of wolves as social animals with core families. I’ve spent considerable time with wolves. My experience (and that of Prof L David Mech in his tome “The Wolf”) discovered wolves don’t hate humans nor do they consider humans prey. Almost all (one or two exceptions) predators in North America are not human haters, and when they attack it is “defensive” in nature. They are “suspicious” of us, for good reason. In Prof Mech’s viewpoint wolves have 4 levels of approach to humans, which belies the idea that they hate us….why approach in docile manner anyone you hate? I’ve experienced 3 of Mech’s 4 levels, and may be the 4th level if you count the wolf-hybrid I rescued. At level 3 I’ve been within inches of wild wolves and made sure I did nothing foolish or provocative or threatening. It is both scary and exhilarating when you lock eye contact with a wolf at a couple feet distance. They are very smart and I wonder at times who domesticated whom in the advent of “dogs.”

    I’m inclined to think the wolf domesticated man and became dogs. That said, almost all wild animals that can hurt you won’t if not defensive, and in the case of Griz, that defensive attack posture is fear, not aggression per se….none the less for bears it is unpredictable…bears are bears. I give Griz a wide berth, say 75 yards minimum (the NPS says 100 yards)…those hikers who have been killed by bears stumbled in to a defensive zone and paid for it. In the wilderness you must pay attention to everything and when walking a pathway understand that you didn’t create the original pathway, the animals did…thus if you are in their space (the path) they can become very defensive, irrationally so in the case of Griz. Even deer can react that way. Wolves on the other hand are curious and far less knee-jerk aggressive, and will observe you without attack unless you invade their food supply. You need to know where you are and what it might portend. Now cougars, like all cats, are different…anything moving is food and you need to check your back trail periodically to avoid them.

  6. Are you serious? She should absolutely go to jail! She killed 5 animals with a HAMMER, then put them in the freezer for her grandchild to find, all to retaliate for something so trivial as the child not cleaning her room. This woman is a sadistic psycho and mental health counseling should be provided, but the most important thing is she does jail time to send a clear message to her and every other sick freak that this type of wanton cruelty will not be tolerated in a civil society. And what difference does her age make? Are you suggesting that 71 isn’t old enough to know better? Her age would preclude her from being assigned to a chain-gang, but all jails have medical care if needed and older inmates.

  7. There is a huge difference between killing animals for food and killing them for spite, especially those never intended to be food. I quit hunting upon my return from Asia, just because I no longer found it a necessity. None-the-less I hold no anger toward hunters who eat what they kill, nor stock-men who process livestock for slaughter. Now for those who hunt and kill just for “trophies”…SPIT!

  8. There was a time when Grandma went to the back yard and and killed something for dinner. Even if you thought it was your favorite pet, This Woman likely had such an event in her Childhood, My stepfather made Rabbit stew out of a pet Rabbit we raised from a baby. Then he made us eat the stew.

    Rule #1 of being a farmer or raising animals for food: Do not treat them as pets

    Don’t give them names. Don’t pet them. Do NOT get attached. Don’t let your children get attached. These are going to be eaten or destined to be sold to someone else.
    They are destined to be FOOD. Their lives will be short. That doesn’t mean that the need to be treated badly or unnecessarily hurt during the slaughtering process. But….they are food. Not pets. If you can’t do this…..go to the grocery store and pretend that the meat in the plastic trays magically appeared there.

    My daughter wanted to raise a lamb for 4H when she was about 10yrs old. “OK….if you want we can do this. But, I pointed out the reality. That the lamb would be sold at the Fair and that someone was going to probably eat it. If you think that you will get too attached or love the lamb and not be able to handle this, maybe we should do some other activity.” On reflection, she decided that Tole painting was more her speed. I’m glad because I knew that she would get terribly attached because she is just that way and it would hurt her horribly to parade her animal and sell it for slaughter.

    Same rules apply to hunting for food.

    1. The animals are not some characters in a Disneyland film or cartoon. They don’t have relationships like we do with nuclear families, mommies and daddies. Well, except perhaps some of the predators, like wolves or foxes, but I am talking about hunting for food. Deer, wildfowl, etc.

    2. Most of the animals out there can and will harm you if they can. Yes. even the deer.

  9. First of all where are the parents? WHY is the grandmother raising all these children?

    Second, it isn’t a far reach to think that this callous abuse of animals won’t or hasn’t already extended to the children. There is physical abuse and then there is mental abuse. I wouldn’t be surprised if the children haven’t experienced both long before this incident.

    This woman obviously is not suited to raise children……and probably explains why HER own children are failures and not raising THEIR own children. Here is a hint. If you failed so badly as a parent that your own children are not capable of being parents you probably shouldn’t be given another chance to ruin a new generation of children. We see this all the time. Parents are drug addicted wastes of skin so their kids are being raised by the same person who raised them. This is the “keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome” philosophy. Doesn’t work.

    I hope she gets some mental health help and that those children are not exposed to ANYONE else in their immediate family.

    And I agree with bam bam……the false analogy between the deliberate and cruel murdering of the household pets for punishment of the children to the necessary castration of animals who are destined to be food on your table is ridiculous. Some people need to get out more.

  10. Making any connection to the fact that we eat animals, who have been killed for the purpose of consumption, misses the mark. This wingnut didn’t kill the cats because the family was destitute and starving; she killed the innocent animals out of a displaced sense of anger, frustration and revenge. Please stop equating this with the consumption of animals for food. The two are in no way related, and the comparisons are nonsensical.

    Studies have shown that the killing and torture of animals is often a precursor to much more serious crimes against humans. These kids are in danger under her care. Period. Remove them, place them in a safe environment and jail her. She is a criminal and a threat to society. If failing to clean a room can evoke such demented and hostile behavior, what could happen to a stranger who crosses her? Let her have a hissy fit when her cellmate, Big Bertha, messes up her half of the room. Big Bertha will have her for lunch.

    1. Great points Bam Bam! I also take offense to DBQ’s leap to “if the biological parents are unable to care for their children, then the grandmother must have been a crappy parent and therefore shouldn’t raise her grandchildren” mentality. I am a grandparent raising a grandchild because my own daughter has mental health and substance abuse issues secondary to a severe Traumatic Brain Injury while in college. Granted some parents choose to try drugs/alcohol in their life but to suggest that an addict is the result of inadequate parenting is ignorant. Perhaps you should look into addiction so that you could understand the disease better. Furthermore, we grandparents would rather be traveling the world than raising our grandchildren but we do it because it is the right thing to do! Foster parents get YOUR tax dollars to raise these children while grandparents use their savings and retirement to do the job! Please be informed before drawing assumptions…

  11. When her time comes and she gets the interview at the Pearly Gates she had better hope that the interview does not fall on Wednesday. As you golfers know, Wednesday is golf day. Saint Peter will have a stand in. The stand in can be a dog sometimes. The dog would probably not send her to Hell but would send her to Limbo, which is a suburb of Saint Louis called Ferguson. There the people are stuck between Don Lemon and the other correspondent from Fox News out at the Northland Shopping Center waiting for the Al Sharptongues of the world to pontificate. If she would kill a cat at the Michael Brown shrine on Canfield street then she would make national news.

    These kids need a different granma but we don’t know if there is a dad around or if mom is not around. Often in America the granmas take care of the kids while the moms run around.

  12. I do understand this frustration. I really do. But this is a bad way to handle it.

    So if they send the grandmother to jail or a mental institution, what happens to the children? Are they better off in foster care? We need more information to know whether a greater evil will be created by incarcerating her. And where are the parents? Why aren’t they helping raise their children?

  13. PETA plays on this remoteness to try and make us all greens and bean eaters.

  14. omarty does bring up a salient point. As we move further away from farming and hunting w/ each passing generation, we lose sight of the perspective that we do kill animals to eat. It has become more remote to consumers. I love animals, but I am not on the same level as someone like JT. I have been to many farms the past 30 years living in Wi. and am in touch w/ what goes on there. I’ve heard pigs getting castrated, didn’t see, it but heard it and it’s pretty rough.

    1. Nick – I have seen them make little steers out of calves. You can only have so many bulls running around.

  15. We do have special relationships with Cats and Dogs. Company’s kill animals for us for food. We are losing the, that animal sacrificed so we could live story.

    There was a time when Grandma went to the back yard and and killed something for dinner. Even if you thought it was your favorite pet, This Woman likely had such an event in her Childhood, My stepfather made Rabbit stew out of a pet Rabbit we raised from a baby. Then he made us eat the stew.

    Legal people just cannot find a way to elevate Cats and Dogs to human status without bringing Humans down to the level of the Animal….Yet.

    I do however think all these warm and fuzzy cross species love story videos are because humans no longer look at everything that moves as food.

  16. The time served should be in an institute. However, with America’s knee jerk ‘lock em up’ response, who knows. The woman has at least one screw loose. Her connection between killing animals to make a point and parenting is a scary foreshadowing of times when the kids get older and more rebellious. She should not be near kids without supervision.

  17. Grandparents raising grandchildren is hard and there is a systemwide lack of support but with that being said…she should get jail time regardless of age and I pray these children were removed from her care permanently. It’s not a far reach to think if you can kill a cat and kittens with a hammer that you could kill a person or child!

  18. No. I do not think this woman should serve time. Court ordered evaluation, psych treatment and supervision. No unsupervised contact w/ children until deemed ready and no pets.

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