Florida man suspected of dumping hit-and-run victim also accused of beheading ex-girlfriend’s cats


Joseph Charles Strickland (Florida Highway Patrol/Hernando County Sheriff’s Office

BROOKSVILLE, Fla. (WFLA) — The man who Florida Highway Patrol troopers say hit and killed a pedestrian, then attempted to hide the body behind a bait shop was wanted in Minnesota for allegedly torturing and killing his ex-girlfriend’s cats, according to court documents.

According to Florida Highway Patrol troopers, 28-year-old Joseph Charles Strickland hit and killed a 32-year-old man around 12:10 a.m. Sunday. Troopers say Strickland then drove the body to the back of a bait shop and dumped the remains. Investigators later found a human leg along Cortez Boulevard, according to the FHP.

Strickland was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving a death, tampering with evidence, no valid driver’s license, and no insurance.

Strickland also has multiple warrants out of Minnesota, including an active warrant out of Goodhue County for two felony counts of animal torture.

According to a criminal complaint, Strickland’s ex-girlfriend contacted Cannon Falls police in March 2020 and told them she believed he was responsible for killing her cat after they broke up. She also said her other cat was missing, the complaint says.

The responding officer noted in the complaint that “the cat’s head was removed, and there was another injury to it’s abdomen.” The complaint says the other cat was later found dead in a dumpster and also had its head removed.

The criminal complaint alleges neighbors could hear the cats being abused and killed inside the ex-girlfriend’s apartment.

Court documents show another active warrant for Strickland’s arrest stemming from an alleged crash in February 2020.

Records show Strickland was charged with two felony counts of criminal vehicular operation resulting in substantial bodily harm, one gross misdemeanor count of criminal vehicular operation resulting in bodily harm and one misdemeanor count of fourth-degree DWI. According to court documents, a sheriff’s deputy saw Strickland driving 86 mph in a 60-mph zone and passing a semitrailer and car in the wrong lane before losing control and driving off the road.

Court filings say he then crashed into a road sign, barbed wire fence and car trailer.

The criminal complaint says three passengers were in the car with Strickland, one of whom was ejected from the vehicle. All three passengers were taken to the hospital. Officers were unable to speak with one passenger “because she needed surgery as a result of her injuries from the crash,” the criminal complaint states.

Both the February 2020 and March 2020 cases are still open.

Strickland also has a third warrant for his arrest out of Ramsey County for multiple misdemeanor driving violations.

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