More than 200 witnesses were subpoenaed.
Three senior prosecutors were assigned to the case. Detectives were borrowed from the homicide division.
Thirty crime scenes were examined. Two homes were raided.
Forensics tests were conducted. DNA analysis was performed by the Miami-Dade police crime lab. When those came up empty, material was shipped off to the University of California-Davis for more DNA tests.
An electronic tracking device was attached to the suspect's car. The target was under surveillance for weeks. ``They had cops on overtime, hiding in the bushes, watching from rooftops,'' defense attorney David Macey said.
No one has yet calculated how much public money was wasted pursuing Tyler Weinman, but last year The Miami Herald's David Ovalle reported that the first 10 days of this extraordinary investigation cost Miami-Dade police $73,693.57 in overtime. That was back in July 2009, for an investigation destined to drag on for another 16 months.
By now, Macey figures, Miami-Dade has spent more than a million bucks -- for a crime that never occurred. The non-crime of the century.
Another kind of cost was exacted from Tyler Weinman, 19, painted as a deranged sociopath, a serial cat killer and subjected to the kind of harsh pretrial regimen usually reserved for accused sexual predators. Bond was set at a quarter of a million dollars. With house arrest, an electronic tracking bracelet fastened to his ankle, compulsory psychological counseling.
Since, Weinman has lived as the world's most infamous accused pet killer, the object of worldwide Internet-driven malevolence. ``I've represented defendants accused of the most heinous violence, but those cases have never produced anything like the hatred and the threats in this case,'' Macey said.
Those of us in the local media, of course, fed the frenzy. And Tyler Weinman, accused of killing 19 cats in the Cutler Bay area, damned by circumstantial evidence and dark mutterings from investigators, became a living caricature, South Florida's most infamous accused criminal.
Then came the actual evidence. No human DNA on the dead cats. None. Forensic autopsies of the eight slain cats that police preserved found all eight -- eight for eight -- had died in the jaws of animals -- probably dogs -- not human predators. As it happened, two large feral dogs had been captured in Cutler Bay the same day as Tyler's arrest.
Charges were dropped last week. The Miami-Dade state attorney's office tried to explain the rush to judgment, recalling ``an ever increasing pressure on the detectives involved to make an arrest.''
We didn't have a cat killer. We had a brutal case of community hysteria. Cops, the prosecutors, the media went as berserk as a worldwide mob of angry cat lovers. The Cutler Bay case weirdly mirrors similar outbursts over the years in Denver, Colo., Salt Lake City, Utah; Phoenix, Ariz., Austin, Texas; and Orange County, Calif., where spates of cat killings were attributed to satanic cults practicing animal sacrifice. Except forensic evidence eventually indicated the killers were coyotes.
In this case, instead of a hypothetical cult, blame fell on a real person. For Tyler Weinman, the presumption of innocence was trumped by community hysteria. Now comes our community shame.