When Tina the tabby cat went missing, her supposed captor set the ransom at $20.
UF student Ilana Barnes posted on Facebook about her 1-year-old cat’s disappearance and then received a string of threatening messages just hours later.
The sender, later identified as 22-year-old Madeleine Joan Kaye, claimed to have the cat and demanded at least $20 for Tina’s safe return, according to a report from Gainesville Police.
Kaye is listed as a student in UF’s student directory.
After tracing the phone number, Barnes learned it was Kaye who sent the threats, revealing a possible motive.
She once asked Barnes to date one of Kaye’s friends, Barnes said, creating hostility between the acquaintances.
Barnes, a 20-year-old UF international studies and anthropology sophomore, said Kaye’s texts soon turned profane.
“I don’t give a f--- about your cat,” Barnes said, reading from her phone, “but you don’t deserve a beautiful animal when you’re a disgusting person.”
Barnes said she threatened to call police unless Tina was returned, but that Kaye responded with a text about having a lawyer ready.
On Friday, GPD charged Kaye with extortion and took her to the Alachua County Jail where she was released Saturday afternoon on a $5,000 bond.
Kaye told police she sent the messages as a joke when she drank with friends Thursday night, according to the report.
As of press time, Kaye could not be reached for comment.
On Saturday, Barnes found Tina underneath a house in her neighborhood — unharmed.
“It’s the most absurd thing that’s ever happened,” she said.
Correction: The Alligator originally reported that Tina was found on Sunday.
Pictured above is Tina, a 1-year-old grey tabby cat. On Friday, Gainesville Police arrested 22-year-old UF student Madeleine Joan Kaye after they said she demanded a $20 ransom for Tina’s safe return. Kaye never had possession of the cat, but said the ransom was a joke.