Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Statement Analysis: Kevin Mitchell, Cat Killer?

Dwight Gooden wrote that Kevin Mitchell, in a drunken rage, decapitated his girlfriend's kitten.  Mitchell denied it.  A sports writer said that the truth may never be known, since Gooden was using cocaine at the time.

Statement Analysis gets to the truth.   This is from snopes, which does not draw a conclusion.

What do you say?

Cat Killer

Claim:   Former New York Mets outfielder Kevin Mitchell killed his girlfriend's cat by cutting off its head with a knife. 

From Gooden:  

Drinking allowed me to commune with Darryl [Strawberry] and Kevin Mitchell, who was a funny, but very wild and sometimes very dangerous guy. I liked Mitch, but I knew better than to ever fuck with him. I'd heard stories about his background in San Diego, some of which included rumors that he'd hurt some people in gang-related violence. I don't know about that, but I got to witness, firsthand, Mitch's temper.

I dropped by his house along with Meade Chassky, a card show-and-events entrepreneur with whom I became good friends over the years. Meade and I had had lunch at my house, and we decided to pay Mitch an unannounced visit. That was a mistake.

When we got there, I realized Kevin was both drunk and angry, a dangerous combination. He was holding a twelve-inch knife in his hands, having an argument with his live-in girlfriend. Kevin was right in the girl's face, screaming at the top of his lungs.

"I told you not to fuck with me, but you don't want to fuckin' listen to me, do you?" Mitch said.

I saw this and started to turn around, but then Mitch wheeled on me and Meade. Now that we'd walked in, we were fair game..

"Sit the fuck down, the two of you. You're not going anywhere."

He was serious. I could tell. I wouldn't have wanted Mitch mad at mewithout a knife. With it, all he had to do was say jump, and I'd say, How high?

Somehow, Mitch got it in his head that Meade and I were being followed by the cops and they were outside, staking him out. So he told us to barricade the doors. We looked at him like he was crazy, which, at that moment, he was.

"You think I'm kidding? Do what I tell you," Mitch shouted.

Poor Meade; he was so scared, I swear he peed in his pants. I can't say I blamed him, either, because I was worried about how crazy Mitch might get. His temper was one thing; but that knife in his hand was another. I had no choice but to barricade the front door. We put a couch in front of it, then stacked two chairs on top of the couch. After that, Mitch ordered us to pull the blinds down on all the windows, then he ripped the phone out of the wall.
Finally, I tried to plead with him.

"Mitch, listen to me. It's okay, there's nobody out there," I said gently.

"You calling me a liar, motherfucker?" he shouted. He met my eyes with a glaze so fierce, I had to look away.

His girlfriend tried reasoning with Mitch, too.

"Kevin, stop acting so crazy, these people are your friends," she said. With that, Mitch turned to her and raised his anger to yet another level. Still holding the knife in his right hand, he grabbed his girlfriend's little cat, who had the misfortune to be walking near his feet at that very moment.

In one awful sweep of his hand, Mitch pulled the cat's head back, exposing its throat. 

"You think I'm kidding when I say don't ever fuck with me?" he shouted. Before the girl could answer, Mitch took the knife to the cat, and cut its head off. 


I was horrified by the sight: Mitch was still holding the cat's head in one hand, while the body dropped to the floor, blood pouring out from where the head once was, limbs still twitching. 
The girl was practically out of control, screaming so loud I'm shocked the cops didn't actually show up. Meade tried to run for the door, but Mitch wasn't about to become reasonable yet.

"Sit the fuck down, Meade. You and Doc, sit down on that couch and don't move," he said.

Considering he had a severed cat's head and a knife in his hands, he didn't get an argument from either one of us.

We sat down. So did the girlfriend. And Mitch sat across from us, shooting darts at us with his eyes. Sort of like a modern-day Mexican standoff. We remained like this for almost two hours, no one saying a word, until Mitch finally started to nod off.

He'd start to close his eyes, then open them quickly, almost like he was testing us. Finally, for some reason, the dark cloud over him moved on. Mitch half smiled and said, "You guys can go."

We left, in about a half second, of course. The next day at the ballpark, I approached Mitch and asked, "You feeling okay?"

Looking straight ahead, he said, "Yesterday never happened." And we never mentioned it again.1

This narrative would seem to be everything necessary to confirm this tale as true: a detailed, first-person account related by someone who was a direct participant in the event (and found it significant enough to include in his autobiography). However, as author Jeff Pearlman documented while conducting player interviews for his book about the 1986 New York Mets championship team, The Bad Guys Won!, Kevin Mitchell not only vehemently denied that the incident described by Gooden ever took place, he insisted he was going to "get" Gooden for spreading such wild tales about him. And when Mitchell finally had an opportunity to confront Gooden, the latter insisted he hadn't said anything about the alleged cat-beheading incident (despite that fact that it was described in his autobiography), and, incredibly, Mitchell seemed perfectly satisfied with that answer:

Sometime in the early months of 2002, I flew out to San Francisco to meet with Kevin Mitchell, who was about to begin his first season as manager of the Sonoma County Crushers of the independent Western Baseball League. For two and a half hours Mitchell was everything one could hope for in an interview subject: Gregarious. Funny. Loud. Poignant. Chock full of stories.

Near the end of our sit-down, I asked Mitchell to expound on an anecdote that appeared in Dwight Gooden's 1999 autobiography, Heat. Before I even mentioned what the anecdote was, Mitchell's mood went from sunny summer day to winter storm. "Lemme tell you one thing," he said somewhat menacingly. "I didn't do that shit."

That shit was cutting the head off a cat with a twelve-inch kitchen knife. According to Heat, in 1986 Gooden and a friend were visiting Mitchell's Long Island home, and in the middle of a dispute with his girlfriend, the Mets outfielder picked up a small kitten and slashed it across the throat. The body fell to the ground. "I was horrified by the sight," Gooden writes. "Blood pouring out from where the head once was, limbs still twitching."

Shortly after the book was released, Mitchell received a call from a friend who informed him that Jim Rome was telling feline mutilation stories on his radio program. Mitchell phoned Rome at his office. "I asked him why he was making false allegations about me," Mitchell said. "Rome said, 'Hey, Mitch, I'm getting it straight from the horse's mouth, Dwight Gooden.'"

Mitchell was furious. "How could I cut off a cat's head with a kitchen knife? Hell, I love animals," he told me. "I'm not the one who went out there and sucked up some lines [of cocaine], like Dwight Gooden did. I'm a decent guy." For three years Mitchell waited patiently to face Gooden in person. He says he initially considered a lawsuit, then good old-fashioned violence. At the least, a tongue-lashing would suffice.

The moment finally arrived on the afternoon of November 8, 2002, when the two men were scheduled to attend a memorabilia-signing event in New Rochelle, New York. Gooden arrived first, then Mitchell. It didn't take long.

MITCHELL: "Why did you write that I cut off a cat's head?"

GOODEN: "It wasn't me."

MITCHELL: "It wasn't?"

GOODEN: "Nope."

MITCHELL: "Okay. We're cool."

Moments later I asked Mitchell about the encounter. "Doc said he wasn't responsible," he said. "I guess I believe him." But, I pointed out, it's rightthere . . . in HIS autobiography.

Mitchell didn't flinch. All anger was gone. "I said my piece," he said. "It's over."

Remarkably, it was.2

Clearly, someone was lying. But who? Did Dwight Gooden fabricate an account of something that never took place, or Did Kevin Mitchell fib in claiming that was Gooden had written was fiction?


Dacea said...

You might find this article interesting. It shows the difference between active and passive voice in statement analysis.


Anonymous said...

@Peter... Your donation button on the top two stories is not working. I had to go to the very last story on the front page to find one that was linked to your paypal. You might want to update it. Thanks

Buckley said...

The narrative seems more reliable than the denials; I don't see an actual denial. I don't believe the friend peed on himself though, and have difficulty believing they sat there for so long.

Also, is it likely the autobiography is a true first person narrative or ghost written by someone paid to make it seem exciting and believable?

Anonymous said...

If the quotes are accurate, he frames the words he cut the cats head off.

emerald said...


Hi Peter,
My husband is the Assistant Program Director of a Residency Program for doctors. He participates in interviewing and selecting medical students for inclusion into the residency program. I enjoy reading your blog and have been trained in social science research. I recommended to my husband (based on your blog postings) that he ask each potential candidtate questions such as, "Have you ever been arrested?" and "Have you ever stolen anything?" Do you have any other suggestions for appropriate questions for selecting residents that would be successful in a residency and medical career? We are interested in corrrelating the candidates' answers with their selection for the residency program and in publishing results in a medical journal. Any guidance or advice would be appreciated.

Anonymous said...

It seems reliable, but it also seems to be a lot of story telling added (probably to make it more interesting). One thing I did notice right away was, when his story went out of order, where he backtracked to say he had lunch with his friend (it's like the 2nd paragraph). I didn't notice anything else out of order, but like I said, a lot of the fluff around the actual incident seems to be story telling.

Something else odd, is no reliable denial from Mitchell, and no reliable denial from Gooden (in regards to writing about the incident). Then they're both just like, oh ok cool. Really?

Tania Cadogan said...

off topic

HONOLULU – The ex-boyfriend of a Maui woman who was five months pregnant when she disappeared in February has been indicted on charges of killing her and torching her SUV to cover up the crime.

Steven Capobianco, 24, was served with an arrest warrant Monday at Maui Community Correctional Center, where he has been held since last month in an unrelated case, said a person familiar with the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity. The person wasn't authorized to talk publicly about the case.

A Maui grand jury on Friday indicted Capobianco on a second-degree murder charge in the death of Carly Scott, 27, who has never been found. He was also indicted on an arson charge.

Capobianco is the father of Scott's unborn child and has adamantly denied hurting her. He's scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.

Family members last saw Scott in February at her sister's home in Haiku. The Makawao woman's burned 1997 Toyota 4Runner was later found on the island's north shore.

According to a copy of the indictment obtained by The Associated Press, Capobianco caused Scott's death "in an especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel manner, manifesting exceptional depravity" in mid-February.

Before the burnt-out SUV was found, police discovered Scott's dog in the nearby community of Nahiku.

Capobianco has told Hawaii News Now that he saw Scott on the night her family says she vanished, but he had nothing to do with her disappearance.

He said Scott picked him up and drove him to his pickup truck, which had broken down in Keanae. He said that after he fixed his truck, Scott was driving behind him, but he lost sight of her and figured she arrived safely at her destination.

Capobianco couldn't be reached for comment Monday at the jail, where he's being held on $500,000 bail on charges including terroristic threatening and prohibited deadly weapons. His public defender couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

The bench warrant sets bail at $2 million for the murder and arson charges.


C5H11ONO said...

"I didn't do that shit."
Even though it is first person singular/past tense - "shit" is not event specific therefore it is unreliable.

"How could I cut off a cat's head with a kitchen knife? Hell, I love animals," he told me. "I'm not the one who went out there and sucked up some lines [of cocaine], like Dwight Gooden did. I'm a decent guy."
--He is not telling us he didn't cut off a cat's head, only how could he have. He also tried to disparage the story teller, in my opinion that's a deflecting tactic. Interestingly enough he framed the words "I cut off a cat's head".

"Why did you write that I cut off a cat's head?"
--Apparently on a second occasion he also framed the words "I cut off a cat's head?" This is not a denial. He is simply asking the author of the book why he wrote it. He didn't even ask, why did you lie about me killing a cat? He simply questioned why he wrote it.

Gooden: I was horrified by the sight: Mitch was still holding the cat's head in one hand, while the body dropped to the floor, blood pouring out from where the head once was, limbs still twitching.
--I guess there is present tense in here, but I don't think it is because of story telling. Could this be because it was such a horrific scene and so unforgettable that he can still relive it?

Katprint said...

@emerald: Your husband needs to be careful about asking questions which might be useful but illegal. In California, it is illegal for prospective employers to ask whether an applicant has ever been arrested. Employers are allowed to ask about convictions but not arrests. It is also illegal for them to ask whether an applicant is pregnant, or if they have children, or what arrangements they have made for someone to care for their children if their children get sick, or how old they are, or how long they intend to work before retiring. Obviously the answers to these questions might be important to an employer but for public policy reasons, the law prohibits such questions unless directly related to the nature of the work (for example, pregnant women working around medical x-ray equipment or genotoxic chemicals.)

Buckley said...

there are participles but there are not present tense verbs. "Pouring" and "twitching" don't have "was" like "holding" above them, but not do they have the present tense auxiliary verb "is" so the auxiliary verb is implied. Since all the main verbs are past tense, and the only expressed auxiliary verbs are past, it is inaccurate to say this statement reverts into present tense.

C5H11ONO said...

Thanks for clarifying. I wasn't sure.

Kit said...

We can't do a statement analysis on something that was probably ghost written.

As far as the facts of the incidents, I don't buy it. He cuts off a cat's head with one stroke and doesn't cut himself? I don't think it's that easy to cut off an animal's head. You'd have to cut through the bone. Plus it's slippery with blood. Not that I would know personally.

Also, I find it somewhat unlikely that a cat would be hanging around underfoot when someone's in a rage. Although you never know.

Statement Analysis Blog said...

Thank you, Anonymous donor.

It's taken two years to get me to do that, and I am hoping to raise money to get a new paid site, where commentators could participate, and even a live, interactive classroom work could be done.

Its appreciated.

Buckley said...

I'm confused about the furniture and their exit. The barracade the door with "the couch" (not "a" couch- does this imply there was only one?) they put two chairs on the couch. Later, Meade bolts for the door- no mention that it's barricaded. Then they are told to sit on "that" couch. The same one with the chairs on it? No mention of moving them. Then, hours later, they leave in half a second. No mention of having to remove the barricade from the door.

Anonymous said...

Off Topic: Anybody else read about the court case happening now where the guy who led authorities to Molly Bish's bathing suit (which led to the discovery of her remains, and he figured this out by doing his own investigation and supposedly a hunter told him about the bathing suit) is sueing for the $100,000 reward money in the Molly Bish case (noone has yet been charged with the crime)?
I would be interested for someone to do some statement analysis on a few of his quotes in a newspaper article. And also, is this strange behavior to sue for reward money???

Buckley said...

Sounds intriguing- give us the statements.

Anonymous said...

Buckley, here is the article from the T & G today:

WORCESTER— A former police officer who sued the district attorney's office in an effort to collect a $100,000 reward offered in the Molly A. Bish case told a jury today the reward money was "an afterthought."

Timothy S. McGuigan of West Brookfield testified in Worcester Superior Court that his main motivation in launching an unofficial investigation into the disappearance of Ms. Bish, a 16-year-old who vanished from her lifeguard post at Comins Pond in Warren on June 27, 2000, was to bring her abductor to justice.

Mr. McGuigan, a former police officer in North Brookfield and Sturbridge, led investigators to Ms. Bish's bathing suit on a Palmer hillside in 2003. The discovery led authorities to the missing teen's remains, but no one has been charged in her death.

Mr. McGuigan, who said a hunter told him about seeing the bathing suit the previous fall, is trying to collect a $100,000 reward offered by the district attorney's office in the Bish case. He filed suit against District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. in 2009, after Mr. Early and his predecessor, John J. Conte refused to pay him the money.

Mr. Conte and Mr. Early, who are both on the witness list in the case, maintain that the reward money, donated by several private citizens, was intended for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Ms. Bish's killer.

In his opening statement to the jury Monday, Mr. McGuigan's lawyer, Leonidas Chakalos, referred to a poster that was distributed by the Polly Klaas Foundation, a nonprofit California corporation, offering the $100,000 reward "for information leading to Molly."

If the district attorney's office was in disagreement with the terms of the reward as stated on the posters, which were displayed in state police barracks and other public places, it should have had them removed from "the public domain," Mr. Chakalos told the jury.

Assistant Attorney General Helene Kazanjian, representing Mr. Early, said in her opening that posters and other forms of publicity authorized and distributed by the district attorney's office and state police clearly stated that the reward was being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Ms. Bish's abductor.

The 47-year-old Mr. McGuigan, a father of three who now works as a truck driver, said he developed a strong interest in the disappearance of Ms. Bish while employed as a North Brookfield police officer in 2000 and later began conducting his own, unauthorized investigation when publicity about the case appeared to subside.

"You have to keep it going. You have to talk to people," Mr. McGuigan told the jury.

"I found Molly Bish. I found Molly Bish because I talked to a lot of people," he said.

"A reward was never a motivating factor...It was about bringing a child home," Mr. McGuigan said under direct examination by Mr. Chakalos.

Under cross-examination by Assistant Attorney General Anne Sterman, Mr. McGuigan agreed that he didn't actually find Ms. Bish.

"I found the point of origin where I knew Molly would be, her bathing suit," he said.

Mr. McGuigan testified that he had also had a strong interest in the case of another missing child, Holly Piirainen, and that at one time he was considering writing a book about the two cases.

"I was very much driven to bring these girls home," he said

Shown a series of posters and press releases from Mr. Conte's office concerning the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Ms. Bish's abductor, Mr. McGuigan said he did not recall seeing them before applying for the reward money.

Anonymous said...

In above article I am curious about what people think about the statements made by the man who is sueing for the reward money.

equinox said...

Although I am horrified to read about a human being cutting the head off a cat, I am just as horrified reading about two cowards who apparently fled the scene leaving a woman alone with this violent individual. If the story is true the writer should be deeply ashamed of his own cowardly inaction, and if it is false he is a twisted liar, who tells disgusting tales to benefit himself. In either case he's filth I never want to encounter.

Buckley said...

""I found Molly Bish. I found Molly Bish because I talked to a lot of people," he said.

"A reward was never a motivating factor...It was about bringing a child home," Mr. McGuigan said under direct examination by Mr. Chakalos."

The two statements are quite different. The first has much ownership with three "I"s where he is claiming" ownership of the discovery. The next statement he does not claim ownership in his desire to collect the reward- no first person pronouns. Also, the reward collecting us much more general, not tied to this specific discovery. "It was never": Since he is in a trial asking for the money, I'd expect "This is not." About "finding a child" Odd that in the statement about finding her, he repeats her name; in asking for the reward, he uses the much more general "a child."

It's sensitive, he's downplaying his desire for the reward. He lies that it was "never" about the reward, obviously it is- he took the time to sue. Would he have looked for her if he had no chance if getting a reward? Who knows?!?

Anonymous said...

I agree with equinox...cowards!
Control freaks will often maim or kill animals of those they wish to control. The writer probably knew this much. However, if it were true, this, too, is typical reaction of how people really are.

There is no help.

Anonymous said...

Buckley, thank you for looking at the statements. I noticed that too about the repetition of Molly's name, and after reading your analysis I am convinced the reward was a motivating factor in him looking for her.
There are 2 other statements that jumped out at me, I found them concerning as they made me wonder if he could have been involved in her disappearance.
The 1st statement
"You have to keep it going. You have to talk to people."
I think it's odd he distances with the word "you" acting as if most people can relate to conducting unauthorized investigations. Also, it is odd how he uses the word "it" in conjunction with the generalized "you". What is the "it" he needed to keep going? The investigation when interest in the case died down?
The statement that I find concerning is "I found the point of origin where I knew Molly would be, her bathing suit."
I find it concerning that he "knew" Molly would be "at this point of origin". Molly's remains were actually found scattered I believe by animals. I just don't like the embedded statement "where I knew Molly would be". It just concerns me that he doesn't say "I found her bathing suit which led investigators to find her remains". He actually says "where he knew Molly would be".
Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but that statement jumped out at me enough to share the article here.

Statement Analysis Blog said...


as a life long Mets fan, who remembers 1986 so fondly, this revelation, as well as others over the years, has sickened that sweet memory.

well said.

For others:

Kevin Mitchell was a known gang member and known as extremely violent.

Does he ever deny the act?


Unknown said...

Hi Peter,

No, he never denies it, as 'that shit' is too general. I also believe he somewhat confirms it, as he seems to have no question as to what incident the interviewer is referencing.

His words suggest the incident happened in his 'confrontation' as well, when he asks why did you write that I cut off a cat's head, rather than why did you lie about me cutting off a cat's head, or where did you come up with that story about me..., etc. In my opinion, his question suggests that there was an understanding between the two of them about the incident they were discussing.

Also, Mitchell's willingness to accept the obviously dishonest response of, 'It wasn't me'...and move on, suggests that HE didn't want the conversation to go any further. (Sure, maybe Gooden didn't WRITE it himself, but the story was relayed by him, and it's in his autobiography.)

For me, Mitchell's most concerning response was his, "How could I have...", statement. Maybe he was asking himself how he could have done it, since he loves animals? The question is sensitive to him, he choses not to answer it, and then goes on to disparage his accuser, in an attempt to discredit him. The need to discredit his accuser, and then immediately refer to himself as a 'decent guy' is noted.

Statement Analysis Blog said...


It is a vile allegation.

If it was made against me, I would deny it.

You are correct about "all that sh**"

Your speculation about the open question is likely correct, and I believe the answer is "alcohol" is how he could do it, knowing he loves animals.

He was raised in violence and had a gunshot wound he used as a badge of honor to show off.

The book about "The Bad Guys Won" (1986 Mets) is, from my view point, accurate in many ways. Some quotes are not accurate, but that's for another article.

I love the Mets, but the violence against women, the verbal abuse heaped upon opponents, as well as the drug abuse all taint my happy memories of the World Series win.

I won't contribute to Dwight Gooden or Daryl Strawberry's bank accounts by purchasing their books; knowing that they lie so easily in interviews, and how "stories" have dramatically changed one "autobiography" to the next.