TENNESSEE -- A unique case out of Henry County as an arrest is made in what authorities said is the largest cattle theft case the county has ever seen.
“It wasn’t too many years ago this was actually a hanging offense. Today, it’s a Class C Felony,” Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew said.
Tuesday afternoon, the sheriff’s office made their way to a farm in Puryear in response to a cattle theft investigation.
“Kentucky State Police had basically received some information from the victim a gentleman by the name of Gary Brain that had the 48 cattle stolen in Kirksey, Kentucky,” the sheriff said.
On the property, officers found several head of cattle with no food or water, and several dead cows.
Deputies arrested the man running the farm, Travis Hale.
“Total, we found 21 dead cattle there at the Rose Lane in the barn and the the barn area,” the sheriff said.
Sheriff Belew said the dead cattle were not the ones stolen from Kentucky, but belonged to Hale.
The sheriff’s office said they had received multiple complaints to the property concerning the cows getting out onto other farms, destroying crops and free grazing on other property.
On Wednesday morning, the investigation continued. So far, deputies have recovered most of the stolen cattle, and believe the rest are somewhere on the 2,200+ acres of land.
“We believe we are missing six of the stolen cattle, all of them have been recovered except for six at this time, but we do believe there are some other cattle out there,” Sheriff Belew said.
Hale is charged with 21 counts of animal cruelty and theft of property over $10,000. He is currently in the Henry County Jail on a $125,000 bond.
The sheriff said each head of cattle is worth between $700 and $800.
(WBBJ - Dec 1, 2016)