A Pueblo man is accused of an atrocious act of animal cruelty.
The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region (HSPPR) says 25-year-old Robert Heckmann filmed himself torturing and killing a 12-week-old kitten, Loki.
Then he boasted about the act afterwards, according to a text conversation authorities say they found on Heckmann's phone.
"You feel euphoric and just don't care what else is going on. A huge natural high."
Animal law enforcement (ALE) officers in Pueblo were tipped off to the existence of the tape, and say they found both the video and text messages after searching Heckmann's home.
After describing in detail the torture and death--with a smiley face icon--authorities say the text took an even more disturbing turn.
"That's why killing is addictive. I haven't had that high in so long, and I'm pissed it's already over."
HSPPR Director of Animal Law Enforcement Joe Stafford said the degree of violence made this case one of the "most distressing."
"This type of violence worries me. We’ve seen many cases in which those convicted of animal cruelty go on to commit other acts of violence, such as domestic violence, child abuse or elder abuse."
ALE officers found Loki's body in a garbage bag inside Heckmann's home. They say the video showed the tiger kitten suffered tremendously at his tormentor's hands. According to the text messages, when drowning didn't kill him, Heckmann allegedly strangled Loki for 10 minutes.
Authorities were able to rescue Loki's brother, 12-week-old Stewie. Stewie is currently under the care of HSPPR, and will require extensive surgery for an esophagus malformation before he will be cleared for adoption. It's not clear what extent of abuse Stewie suffered before he was removed from Heckmann's home.
Stewie is thriving in his new environment, and his caretakers are optimistic he'll be able to move on from the trauma he endured in the early weeks of his life.
"He's constantly wanting attention, constantly wanting to play...he's a real funny cat," Dr. Nicole Putney, a veterinarian, said.
Heckmann has been charged with cruelty to animals, a felony. He is out on bond. Colorado court records show that prior to this incident, Heckmann only had minor run-ins with the law.
"Our main concern is to see justice done on behalf of Loki," Stafford said. "While it’s up to the courts to decide, we hope Heckmann is prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
Below is the full text conversation released by ALE. Warning: graphic content.
“I did the bucket thing and he stated (sic) to finally drown. And freaked. He busted the lid wide open. I caught him with a towel so he wouldn’t get my room wet. And I sat there for like 10 minutes strangling his dumb (expletive). I got everything on video ;)”
“I feel like a (expletive) sick person… You feel euphoric and just don’t care what else is going on. A huge natural high. That’s why killing is addictive. I haven’t had that high in so long, and I’m pissed it’s already over.”