MOORHEAD, Minn. - Chalk it up to a case of mistaken identity.
That's what Sturgis, S.D., police confirmed Thursday, Jan. 25, ending speculation that a former Moorhead resident accused of killing cats asked about adopting pets from an animal shelter there.
Chief Geody VanDewater said he got new information Thursday, Jan. 25, from Jalan Isaac Greer's probation officer in Moorhead.
According to that officer, Greer met with her at 11 a.m. last Friday in Moorhead, the same day he was supposedly seen at the Sturgis/Meade County Animal Shelter in Sturgis. VanDewater said Greer would've needed more time to make the more than 450-mile drive and be at the shelter by 4:15 p.m. Friday.
He said it was "unfortunate" because rumors quickly spread on social media.
VanDewater's own office started looking into the matter earlier this week when several reporters asked about the tip, which was widely shared on Facebook and included a warning on Craigslist that Greer might be trying to get more animals.
Last November, Greer submitted an Alford plea-meaning he didn't admit guilt, but acknowledged a jury might reach a guilty verdict-on a charge of mistreating or torturing an animal. Court records show police responded to Greer's south Moorhead apartment last January after someone heard a cat crying, finding a dead cat on the floor when they arrived. Witnesses told authorities that other cats had also died under Greer's ownership.
Greer was sentenced to two months in jail and two years of probation, which included the condition that he not have animals during that time.
VanDewater said his office got additional photographs of Greer on Thursday to compare to brief surveillance footage from the animal shelter. Based on those photos, as well as the timeline of Greer's whereabouts last Friday, he determined Greer wasn't the man at the shelter. That also means there's nothing criminal to investigate, he said.
Still, he said the situation was understandable because of the strong similarity between Greer and the mystery man who apparently was just considering his pet options at the shelter that day.
"They're probably pretty close to being twins from what I can tell looking at pictures," VanDewater said.