A Utah man has been charged in federal court with posting videos online of himself torturing and killing guinea pigs.
The suspect previously was charged with animal cruelty in state court.
The 18-year-old, who lives in Woods Cross, was indicted by a federal grand jury on 18 felony counts of a distributing “animal crush videos” on YouTube, one felony county of creating the videos, and four felony counts related to the torture and killing of the animals.
According to the indictment, the suspect bought the four guinea pigs from Petco stores in Farmington, Salt Lake City and West Jordan in October. A short time later, the 18-year-old posted 23 videos in which he tortured the animals — videos with titles that included “Guinea Pig Torture” and “Torture Is Fun.” He also “posted comments to his own videos reinforcing his desires about killing and torturing guinea pigs,” according to a news release.
The suspect is already charged in Utah’s 2nd District Court with five counts of aggravated cruelty to an animal, class A misdemeanors. In October, police in Woods Cross and West Bountiful received “multiple complaints” about at least 17 videos posted to YouTube that showed guinea pigs being tortured and killed. According to the state charges, those viewers “coordinated an online effort” to locate the person who made the videos, and gave police information used to identify the 18-year-old Woods Cross man.
The suspect responded to comments on his videos, posting, “Killing and torture is my favorite activity” and “Somebody help me before I kill everyone else,” according to a probable cause statement. He replied to other people’s comments, posting, “Well you’ll be really excited when I show up by your doorstep” and “I have a bunch of people already on my list, but I guess I can add you too.” He posted a fake address in West Bountiful when he was asked where he lives.
Although YouTube removed the videos and terminated the accounts, “multiple viewers " saved them and captured screenshots, which were posted on Reddit. Police investigators were able to locate the suspect at his Woods Cross residence.
On Nov. 1, the suspect was booked into jail and released on bail. In February, the 18-year-old pleaded not guilty to the state charges. A competency hearing was held in May; another hearing is scheduled for June 23.
He is not currently in custody.