Four of 5 horses recovered:
Horse-theft case has suspects
By JAMIE DAVIS THE BANNER-NEWS
MAGNOLIA — More than a week after five champion rodeo horses were stolen from Southern Arkansas University’s Mulerider Stables, authorities have suspects in the case and have recovered some of the riding tack and the trailer taken in the incident, but have not yet located the animals, SAU Police Chief Eric Plummer said Friday.
The horses, along with a horse trailer and several pieces of riding equipment, were stolen from the stables at some point between 10:30 p.m. Nov. 2 and 6:30 a.m. Nov. 3.
The trailer was recovered late in the day Nov. 3 in Tom, Okla., approximately two hours from Magnolia.
The McCurtain County, Okla., sheriff’s office discovered the trailer and it was released to its rightful owners.
The university announced late Friday that some of the saddles, blankets and other tack were recovered Thursday evening.
Plummer said the items were found in an area east of where the horse trailer was discovered, but declined to release any further details.
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“Those items were found in McCurtain County, a good way from where the trailer was,” said Plummer, adding,
“I can’t really go into specifics on it because that’s going to be part of our investigation.”
Plummer said the discovery was a result of information received by the McCurtain County sheriff’s office, and that using that information, investigators were able to locate the items.
“But nobody was with the tack when it was recovered,” he noted.
Plummer said that while investigators do have suspects in the theft, “We don’t have the horses yet, and we don’t want to do anything that might jeopardize our ability to bring a safe resolution [to the case].”
Because of the ongoing investigation, Plummer declined to release any information about the suspects in the case, or to comment on how those suspects were identified.
Investigators continue to search for the missing horses, he said.
Plummer has said previously that investigators believe the horses were stolen after midnight, though the trailer may have been taken before that time.
The horses were present and accounted for until midnight, he said, noting that several students were in the stables completing preparations for the university’s 31st annual collegiate rodeo, which was held Nov. 3 at the Columbia County Fairgrounds.
The horses have a combined estimated value of $180,000, though Plummer noted that for the students who owned the animals, their value was much greater than that.
“These horses are like family to these kids,” Plummer told the Banner-News shortly after the theft. “They grew up with them, and they have a lot more invested in them than just money.”
Tips have come in from across the South, including Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee and Oklahoma. Photos of the missing horses have been shared globally, and have appeared on websites and blogs related to the horse industry in locations as far away as Canada and Mexico.
The horses are all American quarter horses, ranging in age from 7 to 16.
Anyone with information on the theft is asked to contact the SAU Police Department at (870) 235-4100, or Arkansas State Police Investigator Hays McWhirter at (870) 703-2065.
This article was published today at 5:42 a.m.
Arkansas, Pages 14 on 11/14/2011
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