More than 70 malnourished cats and several cat carcasses were discovered by police Jan. 24 after the shelter's owner and operator, Virginia Kresge Justiniano, 49, and her boyfriend, Andrew Oxenrider, 38, of Tower City, were arrested on drug possession charges after a traffic stop in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania.
Police followed the drugs arrests by going to the shelter near Pine Grove. Investigators found cats and other animals that were dead, dying or starving. They found pallets filled with donated cat food, and they accuse Oxenrider of selling that cat food.
Oxenrider will also face attempted bribery charges after allegedly offering a Pine Grove borough police officer $500 to let him out of the traffic stop, while Justiniano will face animal cruelty charges after abandoning the felines for months, according to the Schuylkill County District Attorney's office.
Police said the home was littered with hypodermic needles and syringes while cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and other drugs were found in both the house and a nearby hotel room Justiniano and Oxenrider were renting.
Also, Justiniano and Oxenrider could face federal fraud charges for using shelter donations to buy drugs, according to Hall.
On her way into court, Justiniano spoke with Newswatch 16. "I believe the media has been misleading and I have no other comment," she said. She then added, "I'll let my past actions speak for themselves."
While unconfirmed, Hall said stories have been circulating that out-of-state donors may have given huge sums -- in one case, $25,000 -- to Cats With No Name over the past several years.
Hall said the shelter had once been a reputable, legitimate animal-care facility. However, Justiniano and Oxenrider allegedly began using donation money to buy drugs rather than food or medical supplies for the felines, according to police.
Police also said allege couple sold crates of cat food to raise drug money.
SPCA workers said it appeared several cats had resorted to eating a decaying deer carcass after not being properly fed for weeks. Thirteen cats have been euthanized and at least five cats died from starvation or extreme temperatures, SPCA workers said.
A group from the SPCA helped police build the cruelty case against Justiniano and Oxenrider.
"We cannot find any excuse for this to happen," said Beth Hall of Deer Lake. "In my opinion, it was like a kitty concentration camp - frozen cats, dead cats, starving cats."
"It blows my mind!" echoed Kristen Overkott of Atlas. "She was fully aware of what was going on and she had all the proper materials - medications, food, everything - to keep these cats healthy, and just seemed to refuse to do so."