Suspect in satanic rite pleads guilty

By David Hedges, Publisher

A man police said cut the head off a cat in what appeared to be part of a satanic ritual has pled guilty.

Kenneth L. McCoy Jr., 23, of Spencer also pled guilty to a hate crime for posting a threatening note on the door of a neighbor who was of mixed race. The charge of prohibiting another person's civil rights carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The felony charge of cruelty to animals in the plea carries a possible penalty of 1-to-5 years and another $5,000 fine.

McCoy and his attorney, public defender Rocky Holmes, appeared before Roane Circuit Judge David Nibert Thursday and entered a conditional plea that can be withdrawn if the judge decides not to accept the recommended sentences.

As part of the plea, prosecutor Mark Sergent will recommend that McCoy receive a sentence of five years for the civil rights charge and 1-to-5 years for the animal cruelty charge, with the sentences to be served at the same time.

Nibert ordered a pre-sentence investigation by a probation officer and set a sentencing hearing for Jan. 24. McCoy has been held in jail in lieu of bond since his arrest last March.

The animal cruelty charge alleges that walkers discovered the remains of a cat at a picnic shelter on top of Charles Fork Lake Dam last December.

The disemboweled cat, with its feet bound, was in a pool of blood. It was in the center of a pentagram, an inverted five-pointed star sometimes associated with satanic rituals, which had been spray-painted on the concrete floor of the shelter. Nearby restrooms had also been spray-painted with satanic symbols.

Police said McCoy obtained the black cat from an ad in a local trading publication and had allegedly committed similar acts in Kentucky.

McCoy, who drove a car covered painted with satanic symbols, lived in a downtown apartment near a woman of mixed race.

The hate crime charge alleges that in March he posted a threatening note on the woman's door that included several racial references.