Two East Texas men were arrested on Nov. 4 and Nov. 13 and charged with felony theft of livestock after stealing three cows from a Carthage, Texas rancher.
This case was jointly investigated by Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) Special Ranger Larry Hand and Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Investigators DJ Dickerson and Kevin Windham.
According to Hand, on Oct. 30 the victim realized that three of his cows were missing from a pasture he leases in Shelby County. The victim called TSCRA Market Inspector Pat McGuigan to share this information, and McGuigan contacted Hand who requested the victim file a report with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
Hand maintained contact through the weekend with the victim and TSCRA Market Inspectors Mike Witcher and McGuigan. Since two out of the three missing cows were branded, Witcher readily remembered inspecting the cattle as they went through the Nacogdoches Livestock Exchange on Oct. 29.
Hand interviewed Nacogdoches Livestock Auction Exchange employees. It was revealed that the suspects Christopher Lance Askew, 30, and Derrek Monroe Hughes, 25, gave the employees inconsistent statements, so they documented the sellers in case of future problems. This documentation eventually led to the names of the suspects.
Hand gathered evidence and statements in neighboring counties while Dickerson and Windham worked through information and intelligence locally. These combined efforts led to arrest warrants being issued for Askew on Nov. 4.
After receiving a call from a citizen on Nov. 4, Hand, Dickerson, Windham and Shelby County Chief Deputy Shad Sparks responded to the scene where they found Askew passed out behind the wheel of a pickup in the middle of a public road with the engine running. After resisting arrest, the suspect was eventually placed under arrest for felony theft of livestock, felony driving while intoxicated (DWI), resisting arrests, obstruction of a passageway and four counts of felony and misdemeanor possession of methamphetamine, codeine, PCP and marijuana.
Authorities identified the trailer used to haul the stolen cows along with the collection of other evidence. This led to an arrest warrant being issued on Hughes, the second suspect, who was not immediately located. Dickerson placed Hughes on the local crime stoppers list and Hughes turned himself into deputies on Nov. 13.
Hughes was placed in the Shelby County Jail on a $10,000 bond and Askew was placed in the Shelby County jail on eight different bonds totaling $165,000. Hand coordinated with the victim to identify and photograph the stolen cattle once their location was obtained. Two of the three stolen cows were recovered and returned to the victim.
“This case provides a great example of TSCRA Special Rangers working closely with TSCRA Market Inspectors, local investigators and livestock markets to arrest thieves and return stolen cattle to the rightful owner,” said Hand. “Identification of the cows was easier in this case since two of three stolen cattle were branded. I can’t stress enough how important it is for ranchers to brand and keep a close watch over their cattle.”
TSCRA appreciates the assistance and hard work of authorities of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office: Sgt. Dickerson; Investigator Windham; Sgt. Derek Barbee; Deputy Roy Bailey; Chief Deputy Sparks; and employees of the Nacogdoches Livestock Exchange, especially Lead Clerk Lynnelle McElroy.
TSCRA has 30 special rangers stationed strategically throughout Texas and Oklahoma who have in-depth knowledge of the cattle industry and are trained in all facets of law enforcement. All are commissioned as Special Rangers by the Texas Department of Public Safety and/or the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.