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Eye On Boise

Suspect in monkey killing charged with two felonies

Michael Watkins, 22, of Weiser, has been charged with two felonies, burglary and grand theft, in connection with the death of a Patas monkey at the Boise Zoo early Saturday morning. He was arrested this afternoon in Washington County, where he is currently in custody; click below for the full Boise Police Department news release.

"I know the community demands and deserves answers to the many questions that surround this senseless crime," Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson said at a news conference this evening. "This case is long on emotions and short on facts, for the time being." More information will come out during the court process to come, he said. "We obviously have more information than we are able to provide tonight. Our detectives have done an outstanding job."

The arrest was made around 2 p.m. today, Masterson said, following up on a citizen tip received last night, and the suspect's seeking treatment at a local hospital where "the story did not seem to mesh with the injuries."

Masterson said the second person sighted outside the zoo has been identified and contacted, but not charged. The suspect who was arrested had injuries to his upper torso, the chief said. A gray baseball cap that was recovered inside the zoo "was found to be the hat that the individual, the suspect that we arrested, had worn that evening," Masterson said. He added, "These may not be the only two charges that this individual faces."

Boise Police Department
News Release

Michael F. Masterson
Chief of Police

Officers Make Arrest in Connection with Zoo Break-in and Monkey's Death







Boise, Nov. 19, 2012, 6:50 p.m. - Boise Police have arrested a man and charged him with two felonies in connection with the death of a Patas monkey inside Zoo Boise over the weekend. The monkey’s death is believed to be connected to a break-in at the zoo early Saturday morning.Watkins 111912

Arrested: Michael J. Watkins, 22, Weiser, Idaho

Charged: Burglary (F), Grand Theft (F)

The suspect, Watkins is currently in the custody of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Weiser, Idaho. Booking photo is courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff.

“I speak for many of us in the police department and the community who were angered and outraged  over  this senseless crime. The loss of this Patas monkey has touched many lives, including our officers and investigators. Officers spent countless hours this weekend and today tracking and developing leads. As usual, it was a combination of a citizen tip and good police work that led us to the arrest in this case,” said Chief Michael Masterson of the Boise Police Department.

What Happened: Boise Police were called by a security employee at Zoo Boise at 4:30 Saturday morning, Nov. 17th. The employee reported a burglary in progress. The guard had spotted two males,  one inside the zoo, the other outside the zoo’s perimeter fence near the primate exhibit. When the men saw the security guard, they ran. The suspect inside the fence appeared to run into the interior of the zoo. Two thorough searches of the zoo, including one sweep with a thermal imager did not find the suspect.

Injured monkey: During the search, officers and zoo employees found a Patas monkey lying next to the perimeter fence inside the zoo near the primate exhibit where the suspect was last seen. The monkey appeared to be seriously injured. Zoo managers immediately took the injured animal to the on site veterinarian for emergency medical treatment, however the monkey died a short time later. Zoo officials say a necropsy showed the monkey’s cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head and neck.

The Investigation: Boise Police property crimes detectives found the suspect who was seen inside the zoo had to overcome several zoo security measures to gain entry into the Zoo and into the Patas monkey enclosure. Detectives found blood evidence are are currnelty testing the blood to see if it's human. A ball cap also believed to belong to the suspect was found inside the zoo near the primate exhibit.

The investigation is ongoing. Boise Police believe they have the identities and have questioned several people with information about the crime. Other charges are possible.

The Arrest: Boise Police detectives arrested the suspect, Watkins this afternoon in Washington County, Idaho where he is currently in custody.  The arrest came after officers pieced together leads from citizen tips and other investigative information. The suspect does have some injuries, however the origin and extent of the injuries remain under investigation.

The Charges: Boise Police and Ada County Prosecutors secured an arrest warrant for the suspect Watkins this afternoon.  The suspect, Watkins is charged with 2 felonies; burglary and grand theft:

18-2407.  Grand theft. (b)  A person is guilty of grand theft when he commits a theft as defined in this chapter and when:  7.  The property taken or deliberately killed is livestock or any other animal exceeding one hundred fifty dollars ($150) in value.

 18-1401. Burglary defined. Every person who enters any house, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store, mill, barn, stable, outhouse, or other building, tent, vessel, vehicle, trailer, airplane or railroad car, with intent to commit any theft or any felony, is guilty of burglary.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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