The Creek County Sheriff’s Office arrested three of the four people on Friday and the last one turned himself in on Monday.
Rancher Randy Sloan, the owner of the cattle, says that, even though it will take time to get restitution for the cattle, he’s just happy the people responsible were caught.
“It was the perfect storm. I had them all set up in the corral, but, sure enough, they just did it – they just backed in, loaded them up, and took off,” said Sloan.
Sloan says his wife went out to check on the calves early in the morning of October 6th and noticed that the lock was broken on their gate. He says she called him out to the pasture and he noticed that 13 calves were missing.
“I started noticing around the corral where we were weaning the calves that the little walk through the gate was open, and I noticed that there were two tire tracks coming through that walkthrough,” he said. “I started looking around thinking ‘They’re gone. We’ll never catch them. They’re probably in Texas. Who knows where they’re at.’”
Sloane’s wife suggested they call Mid-America Stockyards in Bristow just to see if they were there, and sure enough, 12 of the calves were dropped off that morning and a few were still there and hadn’t been purchased yet.
“I recognized the calves just like that because you see them every day,” Sloane said. “You’d think a bunch of black cows is going to look the same, but you get to know your cattle.”
Employees at the Mid-America Stockyards called Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Special Ranger Bart Perrier that day.
Special Ranger Perrier led the investigation, with assistance from the Creek County Sheriff’s Office.
Perrier went to the stockyards and obtained documents showing the calves were dropped off by William Booth, James Adams, and Jeremiah Richard and three separate checks had been cut to them.
“When I looked in the system, they weren’t typical sellers and it’s hard to sell cattle when you don’t own cattle,” said Perrier.
During interviews, investigators say, the suspects confessed to the theft and indicated that financial troubles led them to commit the crime. They admitted to selling 12 of the 13 head, changing the headcount to conceal their identity, and removing the calves’ ear tags.
Booth, Adams, and Richard are each charged with one count of larceny and knowingly concealing stolen property. A fourth person, Marcia Adams, was also charged with knowingly concealing stolen property.
“They went through the sale and they had already sold whenever this was discovered, and at that point, they hadn’t been positively identified to be the victim’s cattle, and due to that it creates multiple victims,” said Special Ranger Perrier. “The subjects that bought the cattle are legal owners of the cattle, so it’s up to the courts to award ownership and restitution.”
Sloan says he’s just happy that they were caught, so they won’t be able to do this to someone else.
“The main thing is they’re caught. They’re not going to do it again. If the money doesn’t come, it doesn’t come, but at least these guys have been captured,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting them prosecuted and stop this cattle rustling around here.”
Sloan says he got heavy-duty locks and set up game cameras around his property, so if it happens again, it will be on camera.
Special Ranger Perrier says he believes that Sloan did everything he could and says his timely reporting helped in the investigation.
“I think the victim did a good job protecting his property and locking his gates. He also counted them regularly, so it had only been one day prior to them going missing to him reporting the crime, so he knew pretty quick that there was something wrong,” said Perrier.
TSCRA and Special Ranger Perrier would like to thank the Creek County Sheriff’s Office, Undersheriff Joe Thompson, Investigator Daniel Brashear, and Special Ranger Brett Wellden for their assistance in the investigation.