The person who crucified four cats and two dogs in Mosta over the past years is likely to live or spend the day in the locality, according to two forensic psychologists.

“The area is important because they (the crimes) are being committed in a particular region, which is normally familiar to the perpetrator or close to where he lives or spends his day,” according to Roberta Holland and Kevin Sammut.

Four cats were found nailed to wooden crosses upside down in Mosta since January last year, with the latest discovered last week.

The series of animal crucifixions in Mosta started in 2011 when two dead puppies were found nailed to crosses. Most of the cases occurred on the 16th of the month and, in some cases, the perpetrator left a note.

Mosta mayor Shirley Farrugia said residents were concerned about the concentration of the gruesome animal killings and called a formal meeting with the police on Wednesday.

Officers “put her mind at rest” that they were investigating the case, she said.

She offered the police the use of the council’s resources, in­cluding employees who worked in the community.

According to Ms Holland and Mr Sammut, the killings appear to be about gratifying psychological or emotional needs.

“When we say psychological need, this does not only refer to a person crying out for a need to be supported in some difficulty but even a violent person or someone with a personality disturbance needing to vent sadistic traits,” they said, stressing they knew little about this particular case and their analysis largely applied to general criminality principles.

“It could be an indication of a person in need and crying out for help. However, there are too many unknown factors. Normally, the ulterior intention of someone crying out for help would be to get caught,” they said.

They said someone who committed an offence and was not caught, as in this case, was more likely to do it again “as he has gained experience in how to go about it without getting caught”.

Motivation could progress or change, so “initially, a person may be crying out for help and, later, be motivated by notoriety and increased self-efficacy,” they agreed.

Speaking about why cats may have been targeted, they said: “Cats are typically kept as pets, so this may have a higher impact on society. Had a rat been used, it may not have had the same impact on the target audience.”

On a cautionary note, they said it did not mean that the perpetrator would commit such an offence on human beings had they been easier targets.

Asked whether there was the risk of the perpetrator moving on to killing people, they said: “Judging by statistics in Malta and Europe, it is highly unlikely.

“Furthermore, progression will not occur from killing or crucifying dead animals to killing people.

“There will be smaller successive approximations, gradually increasing in severity, which would, hopefully, result in apprehension before anyone gets to that stage.”