Stolen tortoise leads to arrest of sexual assault suspect

'This is definitely unique'

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The Independent US

Imagine losing your beloved tortoise and your last hope was a man holding her ransom for $1,000.

Stacey Swayze-Krampota set up posters across her town, raising awareness for her missing 5-year-old African tortoise named Gracie.

"I even put 'please' all over them. I just wanted people to know how much we loved her and just wanted them to feel something,” she told KPRC 2.

When she finally received an anonymous tip, a man was on the phone, demanding $1,000 for the Gracie’s safe return.

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Stacey Swayze-Krampota tells reporters she "almost lost hope" in the search for Gracie, her missing tortoise.

Ms Swayze-Krampota kept in touch with the strange man, confronting him at his home nearly three weeks later alongside sheriff deputies.

The officers ran the man’s licenses plates and discovered that he was wanted for two outstanding warrants on aggravated sexual assault against a child.

Deputies rushed into the home and arrested 34-year-old Joseph Urbino who left Gracie stuffed in a duffle bag inside a closet.

"She's perking up now. I’m going to take her in just to get checked.  She's getting better.  I'm just glad to see her,” Ms Swayze-Krampota told the station.


Fortunately, Brazoria County Investigator recognized how “unique” the case was.

“This is definitely unique. We got someone off of the street for suspected sexual assault of a child over the theft of a tortoise,” Reuters reported.

Mr Urbino now faces two sexual assault charges and theft charges for holding the tortoise ransom.