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Botched brand helps authorities lasso Garvin County cattle rustlers

Thieves fail in attempt to use homemade branding irons to conceal theft in Garvin County.
BY PHILLIP O'CONNOR poconnor@opubco.com Published: April 19, 2013
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— A bad job with a branding iron could help solve a recent cattle theft.

Edward Heath McCoy, 32, of Maysville, is being held in the Garvin County jail, accused of stealing six cows then using a makeshift branding iron to attempt to cover the existing brands. More arrests could follow, Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes said.

On March 31, Ryan Somers reported someone had cut the gate lock on a pasture southwest of Maysville and taken six Limousin-breed heifers from his larger herd.

With no real leads, Somers placed an ad in the Lindsay News offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to his cattle's return. The sheriff's department also highlighted the case in a crime stoppers column that runs in several Garvin County newspapers.

Rhodes said investigators caught a break when McCoy and a woman approached a man in neighboring Grady County seeking to sell several head of cattle for $1,000 each. The man knew about the earlier theft and notified the Somers family, who contacted the sheriff's office with information that the cattle might be found on land McCoy leased southeast of Maysville.

While recovering the cattle, authorities found what they considered a suspicious makeshift corral in a tree line on the property. They also found pliers and large bolt cutters near the pen and a fire pit authorities say could have been used for hot-iron branding. At McCoy's residence, investigators seized four iron brands that authorities allege McCoy used in a poor attempt to cover the existing brands.

“It wasn't done with time or care in mind,” Rhodes said. “If these cattle would have gone through a sale barn, they would have raised all kind of red flags because of the markings and brands. That's probably what prompted him to try to sell to an individual.”

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