Lakeland nurse convicted with poisoning neighbors’ pets: PCSO


Authorities say a Lakeland nurse poisoned her neighbors’ pets, leading to her arrest on animal cruelty charges.

Tamesha Knighten, 51, a licensed practical nurse at United Health Care at WellMed, was charged with three counts of animal cruelty and one count of depositing poison in public by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Agricultural Crimes Unit on Aug. 16 after detectives said she poisoned two pet cats and a pregnant Chihuahua. According to authorities, she also killed eight puppies in the dog’s womb.

“We saw that one of them was in horrific distress, and others had already died,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd explained. “The one that was in horrific distress died immediately.”

An inquiry was launched after the two cats, Luna and Pancake, died within hours of each other, according to authorities. Both cats were said to be choking, foaming at the mouth, and in excruciating discomfort.

“I was absolutely disgusted, horrified,” said Shelley Thayer, Executive Director of the SPCA of Florida. “This is a heinous crime.” And it’s really crushed me.”

A short time later, the neighbors were unable to locate their pregnant dog, Daisy, and began searching for her. She had died by the time the couple discovered her.

During the course of the inquiry, the couple informed officers that Knighten threatened to poison their pets if they came into her yard. The couple told detectives that they spotted Knighten pacing in her yard near the common fence line on the day the cats died.

Lakeland nurse convicted with poisoning neighbors' pets: PCSO

Knighten, who was supposedly outdoors when the first pet began to foam at the mouth, reportedly told the couple that their cat was choking on a frog.

“It makes me angry,” Sheriff Judd remarked. “It certainly makes me angry.”

During the investigation, Knighten admitted to putting ant bait around her air conditioning unit, claiming it was to kill any ants that got into it.

When detectives searched the area around the unit, they discovered a white Styrofoam bowl with a “meaty substance” combined with a dark residue. When questioned, Knighten stated that she did not have Styrofoam bowls, but a search of her home discovered a package of them in her pantry, prompting her to say, “Oh, I guess I do have them.”

“Can you imagine the excruciating pain?” Thayer inquired. “That is caused by poison?”

Knighten also had canned chicken in her house while denying having any.

Investigators requested to view the clip after discovering Knighten had a security camera in her yard. During an examination of the video, detectives noticed Knighten wearing blue gloves and holding a Styrofoam bowl containing a white and brown substance.

When police inquired what she was doing in the video, Knighten said she wasn’t sure. She explained that she was wearing gloves because she was picking up papers in her yard. At the time, detectives discovered no papers in her garbage.

“There’s no excuse for that, none, zero,” Sheriff Judd stated. “There are ways to deal with conflict, even if you’re upset about the cat and the dog.”

Lakeland nurse convicted with poisoning neighbors' pets: PCSO

She then informed officers that she used “special seasoning” on the chicken, which she left out for the neighborhood animals to eat. According to authorities, samples from the bowl and the dead cats confirmed the “special seasoning” was Phorate, a pesticide common in insecticides.

Sheriff Judd stated that his animal cruelty investigation section submitted samples to the University of Florida, which collaborated with Texas A&M, which collaborated with Michigan State University, to identify the poison and track it back to the dogs. He claimed that was why the arrest took so long.

“Never poison innocent animals,” Sheriff Judd cautioned. “Unless, of course, you want to go to jail as well.”

The owner of the pets was able to communicate with 8 On Your Side, but she refused to go on camera. The poisoning astonished her, she added, and the neighbors liked the nurse next door. She stated that she hasn’t had any pets since.

“These were someone’s personal family members,” Thayer bemoaned. “Whether they were people or animals, these were loved animals that ended with a tragic and terrible and painful death.”

Knight was arrested and put into the Polk County Jail. It is unknown whether she has bonded out at this point, but no one has responded to her door.

“We call her an ‘IJN,'” Sheriff Judd explained. “An ‘in-the-jail’ nurse.”

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.