Cops Discover Dead Cougar In Freezer Of Florida Man, 73
The bizarre discovery last month at the Loxahatchee home of Gene Stimmler, 73, prompted investigators to seek the aid of state wildlife officials as well as the county’s animal control unit, according to a Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office report.
Deputy Bryan Hack reported that Joseph Valenzuela, a Stimmler employee, told him that a “large wild cat” was “hidden in a freezer in the garage.” The frozen animal, Hack noted, “was brown in color and frozen in a live state, eyes open.”
When questioned by a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer, Stimmler claimed that he did not recall how the animal died. “It just died,” Stimmler said, adding that he did not have the money for a necropsy. Asked if he had shot the cougar--as alleged by Valenzuela--Stimmler replied, “No.”
The frozen cougar can be seen in the above photo (click to enlarge) released by state officials. The cougar was mistakenly described as a lion or panther in some law enforcement reports.
The cougar was among the many wild and exotic animals kept by Stimmler on his 30-acre property. Stimmler, who has owned cougars, a monkey, lemurs, and exotic birds, was not charged in connection with his menagerie. He was, however, busted last month on a grand theft charge for allegedly stealing Valenzuela's dog. Stimmler is pictured in the mug shot at right.