Multiple mutilated animals found, arrest made

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NAPLES - The Collier County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) arrested a 21-year-old Golden Gate Estates man on Monday, February 1. He faces a felony animal cruelty charge.

“Detectives say Christian Lee Hunter of 4362 27th Ave. N.E. severed the head of a hamster he purchased from a pet store and then discarded the dead animal in a blood-smeared box on the side of the road,” the CCSO explained.

The CCSO reported, “On Jan. 5, a resident reported finding a decapitated hamster inside a pet store box next to the roadway in the 4200 block of 27th Avenue Northeast. The resident told detectives she had found several other boxes over the last year containing what she described as “sadistically mutilated” small animals. The most recent box had blood on it and contained bloody wipes, an empty scissor package and a finger nail file package. It also contained a pet store receipt, which helped lead detectives to Hunter. The receipt showed the purchase of a short-haired hamster on Jan. 4, 2021 at 5:16 p.m. for $14.99, along with the sales record with a fictitious name and address.”

Detectives made contact with the pet store in Lee County and obtained store video which showed a man purchasing the hamster on the date and time listed on the receipt. The man was wearing a face mask and eyeglasses and had a large tattoo on his right forearm. Further investigation by detectives identified Hunter as the suspect.

During an interview with detectives Monday, Hunter admitted to purchasing the hamster and providing a false name on the sales record. He was taken into custody and charged with cruelty to animals – cause cruel death, pain or suffering, a felony, and unlawful disposal of a dead animal, a misdemeanor.

Since many studies have revealed a startling propensity for offenders charged with crimes against animals to commit other violent offenses toward human victims, law enforcement officers do not take animal cruelty charges lightly.

“Animal cruelty can never be justified,” said Sheriff Kevin Rambosk. “We are hopeful that we have addressed this situation and can connect this individual with mental health services.”

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