Case Snapshot
Case ID: 1345
Classification: Hoarding, Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: cat
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Wednesday, May 7, 2003

County: Middlesex

Disposition: Alleged
Case Images: 2 files available

Alleged: Heidi Kristine Erickson

Case Updates: 5 update(s) available

Watertown Police with a search warrant raided Erickson's 78 Prentiss St., Watertown, MA apartment on the advise of the Boston authorities and from reports by neighbors of seeing a large number of cats in the windows and foul smells coming from the apartment.  The warrant, obtained from Waltham District Court was for sanitary code violations, and for sick, diseased, malnourished animals - dead or alive.

12 more dead cats were found in this apartment, just as had been found in her Beacon Hill, Boston, MA apartment just the week before.  52 live cats were removed and taken to animal shelters in Boston and Pembroke.

The discovery comes a week after Boston inspectors condemned Erickson's Charles Street apartment where they found 60 dead and frozen cats, as well as medicine and syringes.

Alan Borgal, the Law Enforcement Director of the Animal Rescue League, stated the cats were emaciated, very listless, many had sores, hair loss and suffered from upper respiratory infections.

Erickson was given 48 hours to move out of the Watertown apartment.  The cats were taken to Animal Rescue League shelters, in Boston and Pembroke.

Erickson told police she had been living in the Watertown apartment since April 27, just one day before Boston authorities condemned her Charles St. apartment.  The investigators discovered that she had been living in Watertown since March.


Case Updates

Beacon Hill's notorious cat lady was in the spotlight again yesterday after an angry confrontation with cops who say they found at least two dead felines in her freezer following a brief standoff at her Plymouth home.

Police removed her Great Dane and three Persian cats after an allegation of animal abuse against Heidi Erickson, who was convicted of animal cruelty in 2005 and kept dead cats in her freezer when she lived on Beacon Hill. Click here to read the rest of the story.
Source: Pet-Abuse.Com: Case #15351
Update posted on Mar 19, 2009 - 11:34AM 
A state Supreme Judicial Court justice has upheld a Boston Municipal Court judge's order to return four cats to a woman found guilty last month of six counts of animal cruelty, the Suffolk district attorney's office said yesterday. Justice Roderick L. Ireland turned down an appeal by Suffolk prosecutors when he ruled to return the cats to Heidi Erickson, 44.

However, Ireland also wrote in a two-page ruling that Erickson must not violate any court order, including a May 2003 order from the Boston Housing Court that prohibits her from owning animals if she lives in a residential rental unit within Boston.

Since the court order still holds, Erickson would not be able to live in a Boston apartment if she has the cats, said David Procopio, a spokesman for the district attorney's office.
Source: Boston.com - June 12, 2005
Update posted on Jun 12, 2005 - 1:15PM 
Forty-two sickly Persian cats were wheeled into an animal shelter in Pembroke, Mass. for euthanasia and cremation last Friday despite the objections of their owner, a former Harvard Extension School student facing charges of animal cruelty.

Although owner Heidi K. Erickson tried for months to obtain a restraining order to save her cats, veterinarians from the Animal Rescue League told the Waltham District Court that the ringworm-infested felines presented a health hazard for humans.

The court ordered the immediate euthanasia of the cats.

The Persians, along with another dozen cat carcasses, were seized by police in Erickson's Watertown home in early 2003.

Later that week, a search of her other home in Beacon Hill turned up 60 frozen cat cadavers, five more malnourished cats and an abused Great Dane.

The Boston Globe reported at the time that, according to Middlesex Superior Court filings, Erickson once expressed an interest in "breeding the perfections" out of her Persians.

Erickson is facing multiple counts of animal cruelty. If convicted, she could be fined up to $1,000 or face up to a year's imprisonment for each charge.

According to a spokesperson from the Suffolk Superior Court, Erickson failed to appear in court yesterday for her pretrial discovery session, placing her in a status of default.

In May 2003, Erickson denied the allegations and defended her care of the cats.

She suggested that the inspectors had taken photographs of dead cats that did not belong to her or mistakenly identified 150 pounds of beef kidneys as cat carcasses.

According to Harvard Extension School records, Erickson attended classes from 1990 to 1993 and worked as an assistant in the Psychology Library from 1994 to 1996.

Richard E. Kaufman, Erickson's former supervisor at the library, said Erickson filed numerous lawsuits during her time at Harvard, including claims of sexual harassment, discrimination against her dyslexia, unequal employment opportunities and unreasonable discharge from her library job.

All of her cases, which she filed without the aid of a legal professional, were dismissed as groundless, Kaufman said.
Source: The Harvard Crimson - Oct 19, 2004
Update posted on Oct 19, 2004 - 6:18AM 
Forty-two-year-old Erickson, who lives at 78 Prentiss St., has filed a suit in U.S. District Court in Boston against myriad Watertown officials, including Town Manager Michael Driscoll and the Watertown police and health departments. Erickson is also suing the Animal Rescue League of Boston and her landlord, Investment Limited, among others, for violation of civil rights.

Erickson, who has filed numerous lawsuits in area courts in the past, has also filed one in federal court against Boston officials.

She recently pleaded not guilty to 84 counts of animal cruelty and 26 counts of possession of a hypodermic needle at her arraignment in Waltham District Court. The charges stem from the Watertown incident. Erickson is due back in court on July 31 for a pretrial conference.

If found guilty of animal cruelty, Erickson could face up to one year in prison or $1,000 per count.

The third-generation cat breeder continues to live in her Watertown home. But under a filed agreement, she has until Sept. 2 to leave, according to the Waltham District Court clerk's office. If she does not vacate the apartment by then, she can be forced out.

Read more: Watertown Tab and Press
Update posted on Jul 13, 2003 - 11:27PM 
As the investigation continues, allegations against Heidi Erickson, for animal cruelty are being released daily by the local Boston news.

Erickson has not yet been charged with animal cruelty in either Boston or Watertown. Today she allowed WBZ 4 news into her Watertown apartment after cleaning it up. She hopes that the cats will be returned to her. Also her landlord has not issued an eviction notice to Erickson for her Watertown apartment. 2 police cruisers remain outside her 78 Prentiss St., Watertown apartment.

Erickson has earned a reputation as a town outcast, getting fired from jobs and pushed out of neighborhoods. At the Advantage School, co-workers claimed she wore high-cut skirts without underwear. She wanted to bring in a birthing chamber and pregnant cats to assist with difficult deliveries. The last straw there came when she was found cowering in a closet, talking to her cat-sitter on one of the company's cell phones. She was promptly fired and filed a lawsuit claiming discrimination, because of her dyslexia.

The third generation cat breeder has been a handful for city and court officials since she came to Massachusetts from Illinois 12 years ago. She has filed suit with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination 21 times since 1996, and has lost all 14 cases that have been heard. She's cited as her disabilities dyslexia, epilepsy, recipient of Section 8 housing, sexual harassment and the use of her Great Dane, Socrates, as a service animal. She's also filed more than 2 dozen lawsuits in local and federal courts.

Landlords have battled with her as well. Her current landlord discovered that she'd not only removed all of the appliances from her apartment, but also painted some of the gleaming hardwood floors white.

A member of a Cambridge self-help group for poor people remembers Erickson's fascination with the color white. "She had bleached blond hair that's almost white, she wears a lot of white, she breeds white cats and her dog is white with black spots".

Her neighbors have had their share of battles with Erickson as well. When Rachel Faith complained about Erickson, a swastika was painted on her front door stated landlord Frank Nahigian.

In 2001, a Middlesex Superior Court judge appointed Erickson guardian of an elderly retired lawyer, Leo Michael Linehan, with whom she lived in a Cambridge apartment. Neighbors stated Erickson terrorized Linehan, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, despite his cries for mercy.

"I would find the old man sleeping downstairs in the hallway, covered with cat hair," stated Evie Escajadillo. Caridad Escajadillo stated she saw Erickson hitting Linehan and pulling his hair from both sides of his head. Erickson was arrested in September 2001 and charged with assaulting a person over 60 years old, which cost her the guardianship, although the charges were eventually dropped. L. Caridad G. Escajadillo asked for a restraining order after Erickson allegedly chased her and screamed at her stating "she was afraid Erickson was going to kill her one of these days". Erickson responded by filing her own court submission, questioning Escajadillo's sanity and suggesting her accuser had two apartments - one for each personality.

Many of Erickson's cat customers also believe she has taken advantage of them. When one visited Erickson's 'really dirty" flat in Cambridge last year adopting a cat named Coco, the cat had ringworm that affected her entire family and she's had to pay high veterinarian bills.

Persian cat-breeder Donald Creighton of Northampton, MA believes he saw "Dreamcatcher" one of his red tabby Persians on television that Erickson was going to breed with her male champion, being hauled out of the apartment. "I would like to hear an explanation...There is no explanation for it. Creighton had dropped off Dreamcatcher to Erickson's Beacon Hill apartment just before Easter. He stated "he detected no odors and had no reason to believe the cats he saw were sickly and mistreated or I would never have left my cat".
Update posted on May 12, 2003 - 12:02PM 

References

  • The Boston Channel The Boston Globe The Boston Herald WHDH TV The Washington Times The Cape Cod Times WBZ 4 News WCVB News The Boston Channel - May 20, 2005

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