EATONTOWN — A kitten who went missing from the Monmouth County SPCA was stolen by an actual convicted kidnapper, according to authorities — as the woman put the tiny cat into a purse and walked out.

The staff could not locate Queso, an 11-week old female kitten, during one week in late August and began a search of the area where the shelter's kittens are kept — but still could not find her.

"In all the years I've been here we've had that happen before. A kitten will jump out when you turn your back while changing the litter and you don't even see them because they're so light you don't even hear them. They'll scutter through the shelter," MCSCPA executive director Ross Licitra told New Jersey 101.5.

But then Licitra's background with the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office turned the search into an episode of CSI: Eatontown after there was still no sign of Queso and an open cage door was found. The adoption counselors checked to see if any visitors interacted with the animal.

"There was a couple that came in from Asbury Park and they wanted to adopt this cat but decided they weren't going to do it and left the shelter," Licitra said. "We went to the video and saw them acting kind of suspiciously around the cage where Queso was being kept. Then the woman left the shelter carrying a big purse."

Queso is examined by staff at the Monmouth County SPCA after she was stolen
Queso is examined by staff at the Monmouth County SPCA after she was stolen (MCSPCA)
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Tracking down Queso's visitors

Licitra said the SCPA's own officers working with Eatontown police ran the name of the pair, Rose Ramey, 60, of Keansburg, and Rufus Moton, 60, of Asbury Park.

Ramey had served 20 years in prison for a (human) kidnapping and aggravated assault during a break-in. She has been on parole.

"We were able to recover the cat from her boyfriend at their apartment in Asbury Park," Licitra said. "They were charged with theft of movable property both her and her boyfriend."

Ramey and Moton are due in Eatontown Municipal Court on Sept. 29, according to Licitra.

Queso is doing well and is still the "sweet and energetic cat" she was before her ordeal, he said.

Licitira did not know what the couple's intention was in taking Queso from the shelter, except to avoid paying the $175 adoption fee for kittens under four months old.

"You can't just come into the shelter and think you can take an animal anytime you want. We're going to actively pursue it. Even through we have 200-plus kittens under our care — every one is important to us," Licitra said.

Licitra said the cages are not locked for emergency purposes. It would be impossible to try and unlock cages in case of an evacuation.

Queso, a kitten at the Monmouth County SPCA
Queso, a kitten at the Monmouth County SPCA (Monmouth County SPCA)
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Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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