Police: Woman with history of freezing, eating cats caught in new crime

Wittmann, AZ  -- For the fourth time since 2007, an elderly Arizona woman who has a history of freezing and eating cats is under investigation for cat hoarding.

When deputies got word last week that Lucienne Touboul, 85, was in the hospital and no one was looking after her animals, they went to her home in Wittmann.

Sheriff's animal crimes detectives served a search warrant Wednesday at her home about 30 miles northwest of Phoenix. Detectives described the place as "in a very bad state," according to MCSO Lt. Brandon Jones. Cat feces and trash covered the floor, he said.

Detectives had to continue the investigation in full protective gear, including respirators. Jones said sheriff's detectives found cats in various states of severe distress, with major communicable disease that could spread to a human.

As of early Wednesday afternoon, at least 36 cats have been seized but detectives remain on scene locating more cats.

Jones said Touboul will faces charges for animal abuse and added no arrest was expected to be made on Wednesday.

In 2012, detectives seized more than 60 cats and arrested her at her home.

In July 2010, deputies found more than 95 dead cats, some in a freezer, among the more than 100 animals on Touboul's property many of the other cats were euthanized. Touboul admitted to using the animals for a feline stew concoction.

At that time, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he would not have Touboul jailed because of her age and asked his deputies to work with local agencies to provide Touboul physical and mental assistance. The sheriff's office said she was to also have undergone a mental health evaluation.

In 2007, deputies found more than 70 cats in varying stages of poor health at her home. Many of those were euthanized, as well, while others were placed in rescue homes.