Back in 2003, a photographer named Lee Emmert bought a vacant 89-year-old church near Maple Avenue and the Tollway and turned it into a live/work space with two spacious lofts and studio areas. Emmert moved to Portland a couple of years later but kept the church, dubbed the Sanctuary, which he continues to rent out.
The neighborhood, a bit too far
eastwest and a bit too working class to be considered Oak Lawn, is pock-marked with vacant lots. A particularly large one sits directly across Kings Road from the Sanctuary, its brush-covered expanse providing an ideal breeding ground for feral cats.
Most who have rented the lofts seem to have more or less ignored them, but one of the current occupants, whose name is not listed in police reports, became fed up with the constant presence of yeowling felines. So, he began trapping them.
He didn't set out to harm the animals, one witness told police. He was merely catching them so they could be removed and taken elsewhere.
Problem was, he never really followed through on that last part. He kept the cats confined for days in cardboard boxes and clear plastic containers, not bothering to give them food, water, or air holes to breath through. Finally, someone called the police.
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The cops showed up Thursday at 8 p.m. They found eight cats, all alive but noticably malnourished. Animal control officers arrived to take them to the shelter and took over the investigation. So far, there have been no animal cruelty charges.