2 Teenage boys Set fire to a 12-week old kitten named PurrPurr Gervais, OR September 12, 2000

  Veterinarians named her PurrPurr.  The stray 12-week-old kitten was doused with diesel fuel and lighted on fire on Bethlehem Drive near Gervais.  PurrPurr was taken to the Companion Pet Clinic in Woodburn where she was being treated for her burns with pain medication, antibiotics and IV's.

It appears that PurrPurr jumped into a tiny pool of water after she was set on fire - however more than half of her fur was burned.  The kitten in spite of her injuries wandered into a home where they bundled her up and took her to the clinic.

PurrPurr hung on for more than 2 weeks but on 10/3/00 she died in her sleep in the arms of her caretaker.  Donations of more than $8,000 came in from everywhere in the United States.  Any money not used for PurrPurr's care has been placed in the PurrPurr Memorial Fund, which will pay for veterinary care of other stray cats and dogs.

In November, police charged a 14-year-old boy from Woodburn with the crime.  Before the boy could be arrested, he and his family moved out of the area.  A national warrant was issued for the boy in December.  The Marion County Sheriff's office initially thought the boy and his family moved out of state but it is still possible he is in the area.

Prosecutors have charged the boy with aggravated animal abuse - the most serious abuse charge the law allows for someone his age.  If convicted, the boy could get probation or time at a youth correctional facility and would include counseling because of the violence of the act.

The boy, who has a history of run-ins with the law turned himself in, escorted by his mother.  He was arraigned and put on house detention until December 21st, for his next court appearance.  The boy had moved with his family to Erskin, MN.  Until his trial he will remain at his grandparents home in the Woodburn-Gervais area, wearing an electronic monitor and is not permitted to have any contact with animals or matches.  He must attend all court dates, attorney meetings and psychiatric evaluations while under house arrest.

The boy has had 6 brushes with the law all before the death of PurrPurr.  2 cases were with the Mount Angel police for vandalism and 911 misuse.  He had been skateboarding on a public bench and broke off some of the wood.  In 1998, the boy stole soda pop cans from an open garage, a 1st degree burglary offense.  As part of his sentencing, he completed a formal accountability agreement in 1999 that required him to do 2 hours of community service, an essay on positive choices and peer pressure, attend school regularly and have no contact with any other youths involved in that incident.  Woodburn police have records for 2 offenses in 1998 for using foul language and breaking a bottle on the sidewalk.  His earliest contact with the law occurred in 1993.  The boy was 7 years old and told a trespasser to leave.  The boy was holding a knife at the time.

The boy is 1 of 4 children from a Russian Old Believers family.  The father remains working on a farm in MN with one of the children.  The other came back to Oregon with his brother and mother.

Update  12/22/00:

The boy has been sentenced to 6 days in a juvenile facility, indefinite probation and becomes a ward of the court.  He and his family must attend counseling.  He must also complete 40 hours of community service, write an apology to the community to be released to the media and a written essay on the value of pets to children and families.  He was fined $350. and can have no contact with pets, fuel or matches.  The sentence was based on the boys psychiatric evaluation  where the psychologist said the boy shows little threat of reoffending.  The indefinite probation was handed down as a result of this recommendation.

The psychologist stated the boy had low intelligence and high depression.  He also said he was a follower, rather than a leader, and didn't possess the psychopathic qualities that can lead to ascending levels of violence.  The boy said he didn't act alone and is now helping police identify and locate the 2nd suspect.

Update 1/6/01:

A 2nd teen admitted that he held PurrPurr down while the other boy set her on fire.  Judge Frank Yraguen, who was filling in at the Marion County Juvenile Court sentenced the 15-year-old boy to 8 days in detention.  The boy was arrested on 1/4/01 at his Gervais home.  He spent the night in juvenile detention, then appeared in court with his mother.  They opted not to have an attorney but to proceed immediately with the case.

The boy told Judge Yraguen, that the kitten was a stray that had wandered into a neighbors garage.  The boys tied the kitten up and he held it while the other boy poured fuel over it.  The boy then set a newspaper on fire and held it to the kitten's fur.

Both boys are now on probation that could last until they are 23 years old.  The 2nd boy was given the same sentence as the 1st boy; $350 fine, psychiatric evaluation, community service, writing letters etc.

References:

The Statesman Journal

CNN