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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Indiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Kokomo resident arrested on federal animal cruelty charges

Produced and distributed “animal crush videos"

Indianapolis – United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced today that Krystal Cherika Scott, 19, Kokomo, Ind. was arrested and charged with two counts of Making and Distributing Animal Crush Videos, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 48 (the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act).  

“As decent human beings, we have a great responsibility to protect and have compassion for the animals that inhabit this earth.” said Minkler. “It is unconscionable to think that any human being could possible bring themselves to such acts upon an animal. We cannot allow this behavior in a decent and moral society. That is why Ms. Scott must face the consequences of her choices.”

Beginning at least on or about May 3, 2020, and continuing until at least July 8, 2020, Scott, began posting images and videos over various social media platforms, that depicted Scott torturing and graphically killing cats and dogs by hanging, skinning and other means. 

Scott’s conduct attracted the attention of several private citizens who began using publicly available information to attempt to identify the perpetrator. The concerned citizens shared and collected information so that they could provide it to law enforcement and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

On June 16, 2020, the Boise, Idaho Police Department received information from some of those concerned citizens, and immediately opened an investigation. After reviewing the videos and images, the officers concluded that they constituted “animal crush videos,” which is a federal violation.

On June 18, 2020, Boise Police Department contacted the FBI who began working to identify the perpetrator. Working in conjunction with the Boise Police Department and the Ada County Idaho Sheriff’s Office, the investigation revealed that Krystal Cherika Scott of Kokomo Indiana, was responsible for torturing and killing the animals, then posting the videos. Scott obtained the animals, at least in part, by responding to online ads from individuals who were seeking to give away their unwanted pets for adoption.

The FBI Indianapolis Field Office joined the investigation, and learned that Kokomo Police Department had recently contacted Scott after receiving similar animal cruelty complaints in May and June. At that time, Kokomo Police were unable to make an arrest and were unaware of the other investigations involving Scott.

As agents worked to gather evidence, Scott continued to post images of dead animals on Instagram and Tik-Tok as late as July 8th, 2020. On July 9, 2020, the Honorable Doris L. Pryor, Magistrate Judge in the Southern District of Indiana, approved the execution of search warrants seeking additional evidence from Scott’s person, residence, and vehicles, as well as the search and seizure of evidence obtained by the Kokomo Police Department.

On July 14, 2020, Special Agents of the FBI and other law enforcement officers executed the warrants. During the search, the FBI recovered numerous animal parts and skulls that were consistent with the size of cats and dogs. Agents also discovered approximately three live dogs, twelve live cats, and several lizards.

FBI recovered and seized the cellular phone used to produce and distribute the animal crushing videos. A full forensic analysis of the phone is currently underway. Scott told officers that her mother did not participate in acts of animal crushing or posting animal crushing videos.

This case was the result of an investigation by the Boise Police Department, the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation Resident Agency in Boise, Idaho and the Indianapolis Field Office. The Kokomo Police Department also assisted with this case.

“Animal abusers have total power over that animal and, if someone is willing to be that cruel to an animal, evidence suggests they may target vulnerable humans as well,” said Special Agent in Charge Paul Keenan, FBI Indianapolis. “In November of 2019, the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act was passed to address this issue and to assist law enforcement to better target intervention efforts with respect to animal cruelty and the crimes for which it serves as a marker. Our agents and law enforcement partners will continue to diligently work to identify and investigate those who would perpetrate these crimes.”

“This case is an outstanding example of society’s intolerance to animal cruelty and the public’s willingness to do the right thing,” said Special Agent in Charge Paul Haertel of the FBI’s Salt Lake City Field Office. “Tips poured in from all over the world, assisting in an intense and technically complex investigation to find the alleged perpetrator and put a stop to the senseless and horrific abuse of innocent animals.”

“The Boise Police Department is thankful to have played a role in the investigation into this disturbing crime. We had concerned people from all over the world contact us about the terrible images they were seeing on social media. Our officers and detectives worked hard to investigate leads here in Boise and partnered with the FBI as the investigation grew and moved out of state.” said Boise Police Department Deputy Chief Ron Winegar. “We also want to thank the Ada County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance as well as the public for their many tips and patience as we worked to see this investigation through.”

According to Assistant United States Attorney Tiffany Preston who is prosecuting this case for the government, the defendant faces up to 7 years’ imprisonment, 3 years of supervised release, and a maximum fine of $250,000.

A charge is not evidence of guilt. All parties are presumed innocent until proven otherwise in federal court.

In October 2017, United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced a Strategic Plan designed to shape and strengthen the District’s response to its public safety challenges. This demonstrates the office’s firm commitment to violent crime and crimes committed using the dark web. See United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Indiana Strategic Plan Sections 2.3 and 4.6. 

Topic(s): 
Cyber Crime
Updated July 15, 2020