KOKOMO, Ind. — New court documents show internet sleuths provided information to the FBI, which led to the arrest of a Kokomo woman for allegedly torturing and killing cats and dogs.
Krystal Cherika Scott, 19, now faces federal charges in connection with an investigation into animal cruelty videos on social media, including one count of animal crushing and another of creating animal crush videos – a violation under the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act.
The probable cause affidavit defines animal crushing as “conduct in which one or more living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians is purposely crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury.”
Federal agents served a search warrant in Kokomo Tuesday, after Scott allegedly posted “images and videos of torturing and graphically killing cats and dogs by hanging, skinning and other means” between May 3 and July 8 on Instagram and other social media platforms.
Because the images and videos did not show Scott’s face, authorities said private citizens (referred to as “internet sleuths” or “cyber tipsters”) began using platforms like Reddit, Instagram and YouTube to collect identifying information to pass on to law enforcement and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
The court documents explain that the Boise (Idaho) Police Department (BPD) received several reports from these tipsters around June 16. At the time, the internet sleuths believed Scott to be living in Idaho and police then opened an investigation into one or more Instagram accounts.
Court documents explain that BPD was preparing a search warrant for the social media accounts, the Instagram account in question shared a message in a private chat, “I’ll be killing a pregnant Siamese and a kitten later on today,” and, “I’ll be dispatching two cats so I’ll be posting the videos,” as well as pictures of a gray kitten, a black kitten and a Siamese cat inside a black wire cage.
Around the same time images of a kitten hanged from a ligature, later seen on the ground in a different image, and followed by a video of what appears to be the same kitten hanging again from the ligature and the comment, “Little (expletive) was still alive so rehanged it.”
Authorities said a BPD detective contacted the FBI after obtaining authority to search linked Instagram accounts of the alleged strangualation video and other images, which registered from the same internet provider (IP) address in Kokomo, Indiana.
According to court documents, another internet sleuth from London, England was interviewed by a Boise FBI agent and provided a document of collected publicly available files and believed that Krystal Scott of Kokomo, Indiana was the perpetrator of dog and cat strangulation videos circulating online.
The information provided included an advertisement on Facebook of a person trying to find a home for a gray kitten, a pregnant Siamese cat and a black kitten “instead of taking them to a shelter.”
The cats were allegedly taken in by a Facebook user named “Sam” or “Sammy” and were delivered around June 18 to a residence in West Kokomo. The person delivering the cats was interviewed by the FBI and provided a description of a female later identified as Scott.
Court documents explain that the Kokomo Police Department (KPD) had previously responded to local reports of animal cruelty by Scott, including an incident on May 3 in which “multiple deceased animals and animal body parts from Scott’s residence.”
According to KPD, a skinned cat was found in Scott’s freezer and a glass jar was found with the legs of an unidentified animal. Scott told police that it was a coyote given to her by a friend, and that the frozen cats had died naturally and were put there after they died.
Authorities said, “KPD was unable to find information linking Scott to the alleged activities” after searching two cell phones provided to them by Scott.
Another incident on June 26 was reported to Kokomo police, after the ASPCA contacted a man, believing that Scott had tortured a cat that the man had given Scott to adopt based on a reported Instagram video. KPD then seized another cell phone to investigate.
The FBI said in the court documents that KPD “were unaware of the details of the BPD and FBI investigation that was opened on June 16, 2020 and continued thereafter.”
Court documents show that a suspicious activity report was submitted by video-based, social media platform Tik-Tok on June 25, claiming the user was sharing images of dead animals. The FBI said the IP address of the Tik-Tok account was the same as the previously investigated Instagram accounts.
And again on July 8, a similarly named Instagram account shared an image of a decapitated dog in a wire cage resembling the cage the grey and black kittens were held in.
Federal authorities obtained search warrants for Scott’s person, devices and residence on July 10, and the FBI Special Agents executed the warrants on July 14.
During the search, the office said the FBI recovered numerous animal parts and skulls that were consistent with the size of cats and dogs. Agents also found three live dogs, 12 live cats and several lizards.
Scott was charged with two counts of making and distributing animal crush videos. If convicted, Scott could face up to seven years imprisonment, three years of supervised release and a maximum fine of $250,000.