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Charged with killing cat
Man says he was frustrated by his bad hair day

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

A young Riverside man who told police he was experiencing anger over a bad hair day is charged with animal abuse after allegedly killing his cat in his apartment.

Daniel J. Spielhagen, 19, is also charged with marijuana possession. Both charges are misdemeanors.

As of Landmark deadline, Spielhagen remained in custody in the Platte County Jail with bond set at $1,500 cash or surety, meaning he could bond out by paying a 10% fee, or $150, to a bail bondsman.

He was booked into jail last Thursday, July 19.

According to court documents, a relative of Spielhagen contacted the Riverside Police Department on July 19 to report that he had killed his four-month old cat on Tuesday, July 17. The relative said Spielhagen had called that day to say he snapped mentally and started beating the animal and could not stop.

The relative told police Spielhagen had killed family pets in the past, including fish and hamsters. The relative was worried about Spielhagen’s mental health and feared he might harm himself.

The relative accompanied police to Spielhagen’s apartment and he eventually answered the door. The relative entered, Spielhagen tried to push the relative out and they began to struggle. Police then detained Spielhagen and observed a marijuana plant about 18 inches tall in plain view in the living room. There were three marijuana pipes on the coffee table, police allege, that smelled of burnt marijuana. Spielhagen told police he was not suicidal.

After first telling police the cat scratched him and he hit the cat, then threw it down and it died. Spielhagen later changed his story, according to court documents.

After police asked to see the scratch marks and none were observed, Spielhagen eventually told police he was upset because he could not get his hair to cooperate with him, according to court papers. He walked out of the bathroom in his apartment and saw his cat. He picked up the cat and squeezed it. Spielhagen said the cat scratched him “but it was not the cat’s fault,” according to court documents.
Spielhagen then allegedly hit the cat hard a couple of times with an open hand, grabbed the cat by its neck an threw it to the ground. He then allegedly struck the cat a couple more times with an open hand and the cat died.

Spielhagen, according to the court documents, told police he “snapped and his anger was focused on the cat.” He then called a relative who came over and they buried the cat. He denied ever killing any animals in the past.

Spielhagen told police he tries “to do the right thing but his anger gets the best of him. He said the more he tries to suppress his anger the worse it gets,” according to court documents.

Spielhagen appeared at a court hearing on Monday. The court entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf and his next court hearing is set for Aug. 21 at 1:30 p.m. in front of Judge Dennis Eckold in Division V of Platte County Circuit Court.

According to court records, if Spielhagen posts bond a condition will be that he have no possession or ownership of pets.