"I live by the woods, so when I get up in the morning around 6:30, I'm like the cattle call," she said in the interview. "I'll go right out there with the feed, and cats come out from the woods. It's really, truly amazing how many wild cats there are in the world. People just let them go and don't think about it, and they multiply, like, worse than mice. . . . I really believe in saving animals."

Bozzio added that she was working toward a degree in animal science to better help her growing army of felines. She even performed on the NBC edition of the British reality show Hit Me Baby One More Time in 2005, in hopes of winning $10,000 for the Humane Society of the United States. (She lost to P.M. Dawn.)

"All cat donations are welcome. . . . If I had my way, I'd have everybody in every household leave some crunches out for the neighborhood cats," Bozzio told Kramer. "They keep away rodents, they keep away bugs, they're very in tune to an earthquake. They're protective animals, but they've been so abused and misunderstood.

"I'm drawing cats now," she interjected, laughing. "I've gone completely crazy."

090424_cats_main
VISIONS OF ANIMAL CRUELTY: Bozzio, a self-described animal lover, took in about 30 feral cats. At some point, as the police crime-scene photos above show, the presumed mission of mercy went horribly wrong.

All alone and feline blue
About a year and a half later, Bozzio re-located from Chocorua to Newman Drew Road in nearby West Ossipee, and leased a house that she also opened up to feral and neighborhood cats. Antonelli said only three or four cats were kept indoors as pets.

Meanwhile, Bozzio was still a touring musician. After Missing Persons disbanded in 1986, she recorded a solo album, Riot in English, then assembled a new edition of her old band, Dale Bozzio and Missing Persons. That group's rotating lineup has included a number of Boston-based musicians, including guitarists Brad Miller and Tony Savarino and keyboardist Ron Poster.

According to Antonelli, Bozzio hired a caretaker — unnamed in court records — to stay at her West Ossipee home and feed her cats during a fall 2008 tour. The caretaker never came.

"The [caretaker] got sick," Antonelli explains. "She went to the doctor, she had pneumonia, and she couldn't go. She couldn't get in touch with me because I wasn't around, and there was nothing that could be done. And that's how all this happened."

Prompted by calls from concerned neighbors, a police officer entered Bozzio's home on October 12, 2008. According to an arrest affidavit issued sometime after the visit, "a strong odor of cat urine" was noticeable from outside the home, and a mob of "20 to 30 cats" dispersed upon the officer's entry. Many of the feral cats escaped through a hole in a back door.

Inside the home, the officer found "feces in every corner of the residence," but no food or water. "I located a cat leg bone on the floor in the kitchen, the flesh of which appeared to have been consumed by the other cats," documented the officer. "I took as many pictures as possible before I was forced out of the residence by the overwhelming odor from inside."

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