A man in Mesa, Arizona, was arrested after he allegedly threatened his mother with a knife and killed his family’s three pets, telling police that he was “possessed by demons.”
The man’s mother called 911 on Monday afternoon to report that she had returned home to find her son holding a knife. He then chased her out of the apartment down the street as he threatened to kill her, according to a court document shared with Newsweek by the Mesa Police Department. The report said that the call was made in regard to an “active family fight” involving her son who was acting “erratic” and killed multiple animals in the residence.
The suspect, identified as 20-year-old Jason Sperry, allegedly told his mother that he killed all the pets in the house and that he would kill her too if “she did not repent.”
When they arrived at the scene, police officers found a dog, a cat and a bearded lizard, all dead. Sperry told investigators that he was possessed by demons and that voices in his head told him that he should “free the animals,” according to the court document.
Sperry told the police that he used his hands to kill the cat and a knife to kill the dog, but it remains unknown how he killed the lizard. He also tried to kill another cat by shooting it several times with an airsoft gun, but the cat survived.
Sperry also told the officers that he killed his family’s pets because they reminded him of his relatives, according to the report. Police found family photos with faces cut out and knife-punctured holes in the door. Multiple knives were removed from Sperry and from the apartment.
Animal cruelty is punishable in Arizona by up to three years in prison, depending on the circumstances of the crime. Animal abuse in some cases could be punishable by three years of probation and a $2,500 fine.
Sperry faces charges of animal cruelty and aggravated assault. He is currently being held in the Maricopa County Jail on a $50,000 bond, a spokesperson for the Mesa Police Department told Newsweek on Thursday.
The suspect has no criminal history, according to a police spokesperson, who added: “In May of 2020 … the police were called because he was upset and his parents thought he was going to run away. He was located a short time later and returned home. No other history was found except for civil traffic violations.”
Additionally, no details were revealed about whether Sperry suffered from mental illness or if he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the incident.
Similar cases of animal cruelty have been reported over the past year, including an incident in Michigan in which a family said that their beloved dogs were attacked by a fellow dog walker, leaving one dead and another in need of surgery at the time.
The 10-month-old puppies—Jnixx and Saije—belonged to twin girls as support dogs.
Roseville Police told Newsweek at the time that an investigation “revealed it was not an attack targeting the dogs, it appeared the dogs attacked a citizen who was walking his dog.”
The dogs allegedly got loose from the family home after climbing onto a tree that was knocked over by a storm, and then walked out of the yard and encountered a man walking his black terrier one street away.
“The dogs were wrapped around him a few times and he had a pocketknife and there was blood on it,” a neighbor named Brad Somervell told Detroit news station Fox 2. “And I asked what happened and he said the dogs came out of nowhere and attacked him.”
Updates [3/23/2023] 5:20 pm ET: The article has been updated to include additional information and comment from the Mesa Police Department.