Investigators say man killed hamsters to relieve stress; connected to crimes in Lee, Collier counties

Reporter: Justin Kase Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Christian Lee Hunter (CREDIT: Collier County Sheriff’s Office)

A man accused of mutilating a hamster admits to buying the pet store animal just to kill it. At least eight hamsters are dead.

Collier County Sheriff’s Office originally arrested suspect Christian Hunter in Golden Gate Estates, and he faces new charges in Lee County Friday.

According to brand-new court documents, Hunter told investigators he did it to relieve stress and anger.

Investigators say receipts and surveillance video is what they were able to gather as evidence to connect Hunter to crimes in Lee County that were similar to crimes he was already arrested for in Collier County.

Hunter was first investigated in 2020 when a mutilated hamster was found in the parking lot of a Petco at Gulf Coast Town Center.

Collier County deputies arrested Hunter Tuesday, accusing him of killing and beheading a hamster he bought from a different pet store.

When Hunter was arrested for torturing and killing a hamster in Collier County, deputies relayed the information to the Lee County animal abuse unit and realized the cases were connected.

“It’s become habitual behavior, and as time goes on, a hamster isn’t going to be enough,” said Dr. Laura Streyffeler, a licensed mental health counselor. “And he may move up to a rabbit and then a dog, and who knows what else?”

Streyffeler says this is a major red flag.

Court documents also show Hunter admitted to buying and killing at least eight hamsters in the last year. He said he’d squeeze them to death and used scissors to cut them up.

“You can’t just put a Band-Aid on a gaping wound,” Streyffeler said. “This kind of behavior doesn’t happen from somebody who made a decision overnight. This is very deep-seated, emotionally disturbed behavior.”

Hunter told deputies killing these creatures relieved his own personal stress and anger.

“I got chills immediately when you explained the whole process of that,” FGCU student Sal Dietrick said. “That’s just disgusting.”

Employees at a pet store in Lee County told us it was extremely upsetting finding the hamster brutally killed in the parking lot of their business.

Others worry about the mental health of the people finding what is being left behind by Christian Hunter.

“Especially if he’s doing it in like the parking lot and stuff,” FGCU student Grant Steinke said. “I mean, there are people that are going to see that as well. I mean, could be a child walking by, wanting to get a hamster himself or herself.”

The employee of the Lee County pet store chatted with us but did not want to talk on camera. He told us, after they realized what Hunter did in the parking lot, they called all their other stores in the area and told them not to sell any animals to him.

They told us Hunter tried purchasing hamsters at two other Lee County Petco stores, but was turned down.

Hunter is no longer in law enforcement custody after bonding out of Collier County jail this week.

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