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Monday, May 10, 2021
METRO  |  CRIME

UF student arrested after pretending to hold cat hostage

<p>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.</p>

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.

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.

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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.

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