CLEARFIELD, Utah - It’s been nearly eight months since a Clearfield Cat named Sage died from torture.
Sage’s death gained international attention and even though a massive reward was established to bring his killer to justice, no arrest has been made.
However, there are new developments in the investigation and the search for the person responsible for Sage’s abuse.
The 6-year old cat used to be a part of the tribe of several pets owned by the Gomez family.
“None of us have really had closure with it,” said China Cassel.
“We’re still suffering,” Nora Gomez said.
The indoor/outdoor cat disappeared one day in early March. A few days later, Sage showed up back home and it was clear he was injured.
“He was skin and bones,” said Marcella Gomez, who initially found Sage on the floor inside the family’s home. The Gomez family guessed Sage had somehow crawled back home and through the doggy door.
“He had had silicone all over him, had been injected with it,” Cassel explained.
The abuse and torture also left Sage with burns, broken bones and paws, eyes and genitals glued shut, and missing fur and whiskers.
Sage was brought to the animal hospital, where he later died.
Cassel’s plea on Facebook and in the news ignited public fury around the world.
Dozens attended a vigil for Sage, and called for justice in his death.
Donations for a reward between three organizations including the Humane Society of Utah skyrocketed, as support poured in from across the globe.
“We do feel that whoever was capable of inflicting such terrible abuse onto this cat-- they need to be off the street,” said Deann Shepherd with the Humane Society of Utah.
Clearfield Police launched an investigation, and followed hundreds of leads.
That’s all they could say back in March.
Now, police are saying their leads all boiled down to one person of interest— and something happened when they gave a lie detector test to that person.
“That person showed deceptive in the polygraph,” Sergeant Kyle Jeffries with Clearfield Police explained. “We tried to interview further, and that person invoked their rights to counsel.”
That means the person lawyered up after failing the polygraph, and wouldn’t talk.
Could that person have become a suspect— leading to a break in the case?
“Absolutely,” Sgt. Jeffries said. “When someone shows deceptive in the polygraph, obviously there`s more information that we need to get from that person.”
In Utah, polygraph tests are not admissible in court.
Without a confession, witnesses or any substantial evidence, Sgt. Jeffries said there wasn’t much else they could do.
“Right now, the Sage investigation has pretty much stalled out,” he said.
Sgt. Jeffries said the Clearfield Police investigation remains open.
However, one private investigator is bringing renewed hope and has launched his own investigation. Jason Jensen said he took on the case after a number of people approached him.
“I thought, ‘Well, maybe I`ll look into it,’” Jensen said.
‘Looking’ into the case has turned into hundreds of hours of research.
Jensen said he’s interviewed family members, done a walk-through of the home, and investigated the family’s associates, friends and acquaintances.
In the past few weeks, Jensen hung up ‘wanted’ posters in the area, to see if any similar incidents have happened in the neighborhood or to see if he can get any information or tips that would help him move forward.
There was, in fact, another cat found hurt in the area in April.
Authorities wouldn’t release much at the time or say if the cases were connected, but now Sgt. Jeffries can say a little bit about what they found.
“We investigated those cases, and don`t believe they have anything to do with the Sage investigation,” he said.
Still, Jensen said he wants to check everything out and will see if anything he gathers matches either of his two main theories for who is responsible for this act of torture.
“We`re only looking at it either being a juvenile or this person of interest,” Jensen said.
He isn’t publicly naming the person of interest.
Jensen said he’s met with police to exchange information as he continues his investigation.
“I have high confidence that we`ll get to the bottom of this,” he said.
For the Gomez family, that confidence could mean closure.
“I want justice for him,” Nora Gomez said.
“It`s been really hard on us,” Cassel said. “There was no sense of goodbye and real understanding of why this happened.”
The Humane Society of Utah said more than $62,000 still sits in a reward fund for Sage’s case. Even if someone comes forward years from now, Shepherd said they would still pay out their portion of the reward.
Jensen said he's looking for any information in Sage's case, or related cases in the area. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.