When the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office received a report about a landlord-tenant dispute that involved 73-year-old Gene Stimmler allegedly talking about his penis to a 15-year-old boy, a sheriff's deputy had some questions for him.
Then the deputy found Stimmler's freezer, which was full of mangoes, a few parrots, and a big, dead cougar. Officials eventually found nothing wrong with that, but sheriff's deputies arrested him later that day for allegedly stealing a Chihuahua.
We've received the explanation from several officials and reports on this one.
According to a police report, the cops were called to an unincorporated part of Palm Beach County near Loxahatchee by a man named Joseph Valenzuela, who said he'd been living in a trailer with his 15-year-old son on Stimmler's property and had been working for his landscaping company for a month and a half.
Valenzuela told police that Stimmler owed him more than $600 and "had reportedly made some lewd comments to his son in reference to his penis," the report says.
Stimmler refused to talk to the sheriff's deputy who came to his property, so police told Valenzuela he'd need to get a lawyer to deal with the missing-money situation.
Valenzuela also noted that Stimmler had some sort of trap in a pond on the property that Stimmler would use to drown animals he didn't want anymore, the report states.
He also happened to mention that there's a big cat, possibly a lion, hidden in a freezer in Stimmler's garage.
Sure enough, the deputy found a freezer full of mangoes, a pair of parrots, and a "large tiger type animal."
"There was also a large amount of carved frozen meet (sic) packaged in plastic bags," the deputy writes. "This tiger was brown in color and frozen in a live state, eyes open."
The deputy asked dispatch to send out a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer, who arrived and asked Stimmler to show him the cat.
Stimmler offered to show the wildlife officer his "cougar." The wildlife officer identified it as a "panther."
FWC law enforcement spokeswoman Katie Purcell confirms it's a cougar, and since Stimmler previously had permits to have a captive cougar -- along with the fact that the agency doesn't investigate captive animals -- there are no criminal charges associated with Stimmler's cougar-in-a-freezer setup.
While the wildlife official and the sheriff's deputy left to fill out their paperwork on the matter, the sheriff's office got another call from Valenzuela.
Valenzuela said he came home and found his Chihuahua -- valued at $800 -- missing. He also said he couldn't find his wallet.
As another sheriff's deputy rolled up to the property, he saw Valenzuela's 15-year-old son walking out of Stimmler's place with the dog.
When the deputy asked for I.D., Stimmler holed up in his place and told the deputy to "get the fuck off his property," according to the police report.
Valenzuela said he wouldn't press charges if he got all of his stuff back, and the deputy asked Valenzuela's son to inform Stimmler of this "because the last time I went onto Stimmler's patio to knock on the door he let his two large dogs out to attack me," the deputy wrote.
The deputy went back around to the front of the house, and Stimmler was standing outside. He told the deputy he "had a right to take the dog."
Stimmler was arrested and booked into the Palm Beach County Jail on a grand theft charge for jacking the dog and was released after posting $3,000 bond early the next morning.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to New Times Broward-Palm Beach's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling South Florida's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Stimmler was also arrested back in the '80s for cocaine trafficking, while he was the owner of the Patio Delray restaurant.