Florida Keys man stole and beat roommate’s parrot, cops say

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Piper the parrot was stolen from its owner in June 2022 and returned home with multiple broken bones and other injuries. An arrest was made on August 2, 2022.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Office

A 40-year-old man from the Florida Keys was arrested on Tuesday after deputies said he stole his housemate’s pet parrot and slung it over his shoulder, leaving it at a bus stop suffering from several fractures.

Justin David Peters, known as Redbeard, has been charged with grand larceny and felony animal cruelty for taking the $1,800 eclectus parrot and leaving him badly beaten.

On Tuesday night, Peters, who is listed as a handyman, was locked up in Stock Island County Jail. His bond is $30,000. It was unclear if he had legal representation.

Piper the parrot is back home and recovering from injuries including a dislocated hip, blunt force trauma to one side of her body and multiple broken bones, according to Adam Linhardt, spokesman for the city’s sheriff’s office. Monroe County.

Piper may never fully recover from her injuries, the owner told deputies.

“She said the bird suffered lifelong injuries,” Linhardt said.

While the arrest took place on Tuesday, the crime unfolded over a day or two in June in the Lower Keys,

On June 13, a business owner noticed a man – later identified as Peters – with a red parrot at a bus stop near Summerland Key.

Later, when the business owner looked at the bus stop again, the parrot was alone on the bench. He took the bird, called the sheriff’s office, and tried to find the parrot’s owner.

People at an area restaurant and gas station also said they saw the same man with the same red parrot. The bird “appeared to be stressed and agitated,” Linhardt said.

One person urged Peters to put the bird back in its cage because it looked distressed, Linhardt said.

Security camera footage shows Peters was at those businesses.

The following day, Piper’s owner, a 37-year-old woman, told deputies that Peters stole her pet bird from their shared home, after she repeatedly asked him to leave the bird alone.

Peters wasn’t allowed to take Piper out of her cage, let alone take her out in public with her perched on his shoulder.

Eclectus parrots are popular pets, known for their vibrant colors and gentle natures. A medium-sized parrot that can live 20-30 years in captivity, females are deep red with a blue-violet belly while males are more bright green.

Peters already has a criminal case in Monroe County.

In October 2021, Peters did not contest disturbing the peace and damaging property, both misdemeanors, and was sentenced to 14 days, time served, and ordered to pay a total of $618 to cover a fine of $100 plus court fees and costs.

On September 1, 2021, Peters was arrested after he was found lying on the street of a neighborhood near mile marker 25 at 9:45 p.m., according to the arrest report. Peters, who deputies said was shirtless and appeared “under the influence”, also destroyed a mailbox.

When applying for public defender at the time, he said he had no income. Peters’ Facebook page indicates that he is from Royal Oak, Michigan, and works for an air conditioning company.

He also says he’s lived in Summerland since 2018, but from 2020 to 2021 he worked as a bar manager in Kenneth City, Florida, in southern Pinellas County, then St. Petersburg, before taking over. a job in the Keys in April 2021. .

This story was originally published August 2, 2022 7:18 p.m.

Gwen Filosa covers Key West and the Lower Florida Keys for FLKeysNews.com and the Miami Herald and lives in Key West. She was on the staff of the New Orleans Times-Picayune which in 2005 won two Pulitzer Prizes for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina. She graduated from Indiana University.

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