Stolen gibbons recovered in sting
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
CREATED Sep. 19, 2013
NORTH FORT MYERS - The Lee County Sheriff's Office has recovered two gibbons that were reported stolen earlier this week in Nebraska.
According to deputies the owner, Nancy Stephens, had contacted her local sheriff's office to report them missing. Stephens stated she believed they were taken by twin brothers that were her house guests this summer.
Deputies say the brothers were contacted about the gibbons on Facebook by Deborah Misotti, who owns the Talking Monkey Project in Clewiston.
"They were in good condition," said Misotti. "They were frightened. They were traumatized. They were very, very sleepy."
Misotti convinced Michael and Jacob Ruehlman, 20, to bring the animals to her, arranging to meet them at the Waffle House on Palm Beach Boulevard.
On Thursday morning deputies pulled over a car matching the description and discovered the gibbons in the back seat.
"To do something like this is an unconscionable crime," said Misotti. "I think it was a heinous act."
The men have been charged with dealing in stolen property as well as not having sufficient permits to be in possession of an endangered species.
Charges against the men are also pending in Hall County, Nebraska.
By phone Stephens said, "I'm sitting here being upset not sleeping as usual. And I probably won't until I get my babies back."
The gibbons will remain at the Talkin' Monkeys Project until authorities complete their investigation.