Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Cathouse Murders


Memorial of victims outside the house
Memorial of victims outside the house
Although homicide investigators, including OCPD Detective Ryan Porter, were making every effort to maintain control of the case and were revealing details to media outlets in an orderly fashion to avoid compromising their case, it was clear from the outsetespecially with four people dead inside a house that had been deliberately set aflamethat some form of homicide was involved. Despite this obvious conclusion, police officials did not immediately confirm that they were working the case as a homicide investigation, stating instead that they wanted to wait and see the results of the autopsies. Although local reporters had stated that two of the four victims had been identified, the OCPD would not release any names until family members were first notifiedprotocol in such a case.

"We believe we know [the victims' identities], but we certainly want to make sure and err on the side of caution," OCPD Master Sergeant. Gary Knight said.

One of the victims, according to Sgt. Chris Miller, had apparent lacerations to her stomach, face and neck, while the other three victims were burned beyond recognition.

Police investigators also said that they had reason to believe that at least one other person had been inside the house but had left before firefighters arrived. Although they would not say how they had come to that belief, they did indicate that they wanted to speak with the person.

"[Investigators] have not spoken to this person, and obviously they want a chance to do that," said Sgt. Knight.

Police officials neither confirmed nor denied that the person was a suspect, but a television news station reported that the person of interest may have been the renter of the house.

Although police officials had not immediately released any of the victims' names, it was not long before someone placed a makeshift memorial, including a large teddy bear, on the front lawn of the burned-out home in honor of one Jennifer Ermey. The name led to a MySpace tribute page that included a message that stated: "Jennifer Ermey has gone onto heaven R.I.P. 11-09-09." The MySpace message appeared the same day as the fire.

Myspace page for Jennifer Ermey
Myspace page for Jennifer Ermey

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