Nearly $100k of Oklahoma livestock stolen in cattle rustling ring, suspects arrested

Published: May. 25, 2016 at 6:40 PM CDT
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CONNERVILLE, Okla. -- Ranch owner Whitney Ferris-Hansen said she knew something was amiss with the foreman she hired, but she had no idea just how bad things were until she got back to her ranch here in Connerville.

"Everytime you'd open a gate I'd start crying, because there would be this many babies gone and this many cows were gone,” Ferris-Hansen said.

Hansen left Robert Rulo in charge of her cattle for two weeks back in March. When she came back, everything was out of order. So she fired him.

Then realized 69 head of cattle were missing from her ranch.

She called the Johnston County Sheriff's Office, who along with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, were able to wrangle up two more cattle rustling suspects.

They arrested Jesse Hurd Tuesday.

Cody Porter turned himself in Wednesday.

Rulo turned himself into authorities on Thursday.

"Best thing about this is it took down a major cattle theft ring in the state of Oklahoma,” Johnston County Sheriff John Smith said.

Smith said the crimes committed by the suspects span numerous counties all over central and Northern Oklahoma, including Canadian, Tulsa, Rogers and Osage County.

"These guys were on a crime spree,” Colonel Jerry Flowers, special agent with the law enforcement section of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, said. “And through the efforts of the special agents of the Department of Agriculture and the Sheriff's Department and Texas Southwest we've shut them down."

Flower said the value on the stolen livestock was $93,000, but they have been able to recover 29 head of cattle.

Ferris-Hansen said it will take years to recover from the financial loss, but the worst part of having her cattle stolen isn't about the money; it's never knowing where most of them ended up.

"It really does break my heart to think of them being sold twelve times in the course of a week because that's not the kind of operation I run,” Ferris-Hansen said.

Flower said the three suspects committed more than 230 felony crimes in the cattle rustling ring.

After the Oklahoma Attorney General consolidated the case, Rulo, Hurd and Porter now face conspiracy to commit a felony and three counts of larceny of domestic animals apiece.