Burton, Texas – Three Washington County Men were arrested and charged with third degree felony theft of livestock after stealing three calves from a rancher in Burton, Texas. Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) Special Ranger Doug Hutchison led the investigation.
Earl Wain Mathis, 47, of Burton and Donnell Patterson, 17, of Burton were both arrested Friday. Arthur Gantt Reliford, 38, of Burton was arrested Thursday. They are being held at the Washington County Jail and each of the three suspects has a $10,000 bond.
According to Hutchison, the suspects stole the calves in June and took them to the Giddings Livestock Commission to sell them. The auction owner, Larry Shatte was suspicious of the sales transaction so he notified Nina Nygard, TSCRA Market Inspector. Nygard then contacted Hutchison so he could begin investigating the case.
Hutchison said they were able to make a positive identification on one calf with photographs and by pairing it with its mother. It’s now back in the rightful owner’s possession. The other two calves had already been shipped, worked, and turned out into large herds making them impossible to identify. However, the Giddings Livestock Commission was able to stop payment on the check issued to the suspects, and the funds were instead paid to the victim.
“The best way ranchers can protect their livestock from being stolen is to brand and keep a regular count on their cattle,” said Hutchison. “Without a brand, it makes it very difficult to positively identify livestock after they are stolen.”
TSCRA would like to thank Washington County Sergeant Investigator Damon Wegner, Washington County Sergeant Investigator Clay Bosse, Washington County Evidence Technician Mark Morales, Washington County Sheriff Otto Hanak and the Giddings Livestock Commission for their assistance with the investigation.
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.
TSCRA is a 137-year-old trade association and is the largest and oldest livestock organization based in Texas. TSCRA has more than 16,000 beef cattle operations, ranching families and businesses as members. These members represent approximately 50,000 individuals directly involved in ranching and beef production who manage 4 million head of cattle on 76 million acres of range and pasture land primarily in Texas and Oklahoma, but throughout the Southwest.