LAKESIDE PARK - A Highland Heights man accused of breaking into a townhouse here and killing two housecats has a history of terrorizing women and killing or injuring their pets, prosecutors allege in court document.
Russell Swigart, 30, has been held at the Kenton County Detention Center since his Sept. 26 arrest. He is charged with one count of burglary for allegedly breaking into former employee Bridgette Wright's Lakeside Park home and two felony counts of killing her pets.
The accused killer of the housecats is the first person in Northern Kentucky - and possibly the state - to be charged under a law that makes it a felony to kill a cat or dog during torture.
This week, in an effort to raise his bond, prosecutors offered accounts from two women who they say were victimized by Swigart in the past.
"In addition to the crimes for which he is accused in this case, he was accused and convicted of several similar incidents inflicting animal abuse and death as well as stalking and abuse against women in Columbus, Ohio, (and) Wauseon, Ohio," Wright wrote the judge in the case.
A Wauseon, Ohio, woman, who told prosecutors she lived with Swigart in the late 1990s, said he repeatedly abused her and once held her at knifepoint.
The woman told prosecutors Swigart came to her home after she ended their relationship, "placed her pet cat in a shoe box and sealed the box closed with tape. He then shot the box, with the cat inside, with a shotgun, killing the cat," according to the affidavit.
The woman said Swigart then forced her to look at her dead cat "and threatened that he would do the same to her," according to court records.
Another woman, who said she had a brief relationship with Swigart in Columbus, told prosecutors he "unlawfully entered her apartment and harmed her dogs" after their relationship ended. She said Swigart told her "he had hurt the dogs so badly that he had 'left them at death's door.'"
The woman said Swigart also boasted of killing a female roommate's cat, according to court documents.
John Delaney, Swigart's public defender, did not return calls Friday.
Swigart's bond was originally set at $100,000 cash by Kenton District Judge Ann Ruttle. Monday, Kenton Circuit Judge Patricia Summe lowered Swigart's bond to $25,000 cash or $50,000 property. After a hearing Thursday to review the bond, Summe raised it to $50,000 cash or $100,000 property.
"We think it's an appropriate amount, given the circumstances of this crime and what has been alleged concerning the defendant's past conduct," said Jim Redwine, first assistant Kenton Commonwealth's attorney.
Wright told the court in a letter that she is "terrified for (her) life" if Swigart is able to post bond. According to court records, she has temporarily moved in with relatives, can't eat, is barely working, and is selling her home because she "can't bear to spend a minute within those walls again."