Hard to imagine anyone hurting helpless little kittens. But four of them were nearly frozen to death.
"I couldn't even talk. I was hysterical when I was calling 911. It freaked me out really bad. I'm still freaked out," Eve Mulder says.
Mulder found them inside her neighbor's freezer, at the Vagabond Mobile Home Park. Deputies say 39-year old Rodney Blanchard stuffed the kittens into individual plastic sandwich bags, then shoved them into his freezer and left them to die.
One of them did.
The other three might have died too, if not for Mulder. Blanchard asked her to grab him a beer from the freezer, but when she opened the door, she didn't find any beer.
"I kept hearing meowing and I looked at Rodney and he goes, 'hypothermia doesn't take that long to kick in.' and I was like 'Rodney! What did you do?' and then I ran for the freezer to get the kittens out because I knew that's what was in the ziplock bags. It wasn't steak," Mulder said.
If she hadn't seen them, investigators say the kittens wouldn't have made it much longer.
"I would probably say no more than ten minutes. Being in the plastic bag, it probably was protected a little bit more and that's probably why they had more of a chance of surviving." says Jill Purl of SPCA Tampa Bay.
Investigators say the kittens belonged to Blanchard's roommate, Francis Bahr, who wasn't around to take care of them. Bahr was arrested and charged with attempted murder the day before for shooting his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend at the Sunshine Mobile Home Park across the street.
In a twisted turn of events, Blanchard's son, Damian, was just arrested too. He is also charged with attempted murder for his involvement in the double shooting. Authorities say Rodney Blanchard and Bahr were roommates, and Blanchard's son was staying with them.
"It's been a really rough weekend with his roommate being in the shootings and all. It's just been a really rough weekend over here," Mulder said.
The three surviving kittens are expected to make a full recovery. They should be available for adoption just in time for Christmas.