Predators, not humans, were responsible for the mutilated remains of cats and other animals found in Maple Ridge and neighbouring communities.
The determination came from necropsies conducted by internationally known forensic veterinarian Dr. Melinda Merck.
Initial findings from pathologists and veterinarians, combined with the unusual placement of the bodies, had raised the possibility of human involvement, but new forensic science brought to the investigation this week reveals evidence of death by predation.
Pitt Meadows resident Debbie Keel said that she believes the new findings could be correct.
Three years ago she saw a coyote in her yard.
"We've had wildlife come up and down the tracks over the years," she said about the nearby CP rail tracks.
"We were delighted to have wildlife right there in front of us, until we realized that it was our family cat's head he was playing with," Keel said.
"It was playing with something red, and we both realized at the same time it was our cat's head," Keel explained about 11-year-old Kit Kat.
"He was playing with the head, rolling it around, pouncing on it, and tossing it up in the air," she said.
Keel phoned her neighbour to warn her to bring her little dogs inside. It was that neighbour who informed her that the body of Kit Kat was on the front lawn two doors down.
"That cat was cherished," said Keel. "We were devastated. Kit Kat had a remarkable personality. It was so tragic and disturbing."
Fast-forward three years, and Merck has determined the recently found dead animals are similar victims of predator attacks.
Marcie Moriarty with the BC SPCA said they could not initially rule out the possibility of human involvement, because veterinary and pathology reports from 2011 and 2012 indicated that the animals had been severed using a sharp instrument.
"We worked closely with members of the Ridge Meadows and Langley RCMP detachments to explore every avenue in the investigation, including behavioural profiling and DNA testing," said Moriarty.
"The physical evidence in the case was crucial, however, and the BC SPCA was fortunate enough to engage the services of Dr. Melinda Merck, whose state-of-the-art knowledge of forensic science is sought internationally for major investigations involving both human and animal remains."
In total, Dr. Merck conducted necropsies on 30 animals found in recent weeks, including 20 cats, eight birds, one rabbit, and one dog.
While a conclusive cause of death could not be determined in five cases, in which only a tail or leg remained, those body parts also showed evidence of predation, according to the SPCA.