On Wednesday, September 18, 2013, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by the Hendry County Sheriff’s office with possible information on stolen Gibbon Monkeys. After investigating, it was discovered that two Gibbons were stolen from a home in Doniphan, Nebraska and brought to Fort Myers.
The owner of the Gibbons, Nancy Stephens, contacted her local Sheriff’s Office in Nebraska to report the theft on Monday, September 16, 2013. She had suspected the twin brothers that lived with her over the summer; Michael and Jacob Ruehlman, DOB 07-15-93.
Deborah Misotti, owner of The Talking Monkey Project Inc. in Clewiston, Florida, knew Stephens and the Ruehlmans through Facebook. After hearing about the theft, Misotti was able to get in touch with Jacob and convinced him to bring the Gibbons to her as she has a license for Class 1 Primates. Jacob agreed and they were to meet at the Waffle House at I-75 and Palm Beach Boulevard.
On Thursday, September 19, 2013, at approximately 2:47 a.m. the Lee County Sheriff’s Office conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle that matched the description for Jacob and Michael Ruehlman. Inside the vehicle, deputies discovered two gibbons in a cage in the backseat.
The Gibbons were turned over to a sanctuary for safe-keeping while the investigation is on-going. Jacob and Michael Ruehlman were arrested and charged with Dealing in Stolen Property. They are also facing charges from FWC for not having sufficient permits, as the Gibbons are endangered, as well as possible pending charges from Hall County Sheriff’s Office in Nebraska.
***Photos of the Gibbons are attached to this press release.***
Inmate photos and additional information is available on the Sheriff’s Office website at www.sheriffleefl.org under the Crime Activity tab, then click Inmate Search tab.
Media Inquiries are directed to the Public Information Office at (239) 477-1340.