Teen charged with cruelty after kitten found in vehicle on ETSU campus in freezing temps

Johnson City Press • Feb 11, 2020 at 5:20 PM

Campus police arrested a teen Sunday after a good Samaritan reported seeing a kitten left in a vehicle during freezing conditions at an East Tennessee State University parking lot.

Kylee Ashlyn Tolbert, 18, 388 Lexford Lane, Blountville, was charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty.

About 1:30 a.m., the unnamed Samaritan contacted ETSU Public Safety officers about the kitten, according to an incident report. Police reported that weather was below freezing and the car’s windows were covered in frost. The kitten was without food or water, and the vehicle contained a foil roasting pan used as a makeshift litter pan, which was full of feces. Police could not make contact with the vehicle’s owner.

Police said security camera footage revealed that the vehicle arrived about 7 p.m. on Saturday, and a woman with a white backpack got out and walked away. The footage also showed that no one had gone back to check on the kitten in the meantime.

About 4:15 a.m., police decided to enter the vehicle and take the kitten because of dropping temperatures. They took the cat to Public Safety headquarters, where it was given water. About 6:30 a.m., a dispatcher brought a mixture of wet and dry cat food from home, and the kitten ate it “voraciously and completely.”

About 10 a.m., police used the vehicle’s registration to contact Tolbert’s mother, who reported that Tolbert likely was staying with a boyfriend on campus. Police then called Tolbert and convinced her to meet outside, where she was arrested.

Tolbert was released from the Washington County Detention Center with a $1,000 bond later Sunday. She was also issued a criminal trespass order preventing her from returning to the ETSU campus.

The kitten remained in ETSU custody until an “agent” could take possession.

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