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Men charged with felonies in Bollinger County cattle theft
EDITOR'S NOTE: The state where one man is being held has been corrected.
MARBLE HILL, Mo. -- Three men are accused of rustling 10 head of cattle from a Bollinger County farm by investigators who give credit to newer technology in working a crime that hearkens to the Old West.
Jonathan Goldsberry, 27, of Whitewater and his two out-of-state cousins have been charged with five counts of livestock theft in Bollinger County Circuit Court. Charges were filed by prosecutor Steve Gray after nine heifers and one steer, valued at more than $8,000, were reported missing Jan. 7 from a farm on Bollinger County Road 800. Goldsberry and his cousins, Bernard "J.R." Willett, 28, of Waverly, Ky., and Shawn Green, 18, of Evansville, Ind., each face up to 35 years in prison if convicted.
Goldsberry was arrested last week, released on $25,000 bond and awaits arraignment, according to Bollinger County Sheriff Darin Shell. Green remains in Indiana's Vanderburgh County Jail, where he awaits extradition, Shell said. Willett has not yet been arrested, Shell said, though a warrant has been signed by a judge.
Shell gave credit to Sgt. Brenda Cone of the Missouri State Highway Patrol's rural crimes unit, who assisted with the investigation.
Technology that didn't exist in the days of Wild Bill Hickok didn't hurt, either.
The theft took place shortly after midnight on the morning of Jan. 7, Shell said, along a country road in a rural area. Without technology like surveillance video and the ability to quickly track license plates, the arrests might not have happened.
"It's not too difficult to load up cattle in 10 minutes and be gone," Shell said. "It wouldn't take long for them to get out of town and have them sold."
Cone and Deputy Della Moore reviewed hours of surveillance video from several businesses in and around Marble Hill, according to Moore's probable-cause statement. They noticed a Ford pickup with a horse trailer meandering around Bollinger County in the tapes, Moore said. The truck settled in the County Mart parking lot where another truck, this one a Dodge, pulled in and three men were seen talking.
A license plate provided enough information to run through a database and be tracked back to a woman from Whitewater. The woman, Moore said, is the girlfriend of Goldsberry. Cone asked Goldsberry and his girlfriend to come to her office, Moore said, where at first he denied involvement. But when confronted with the video, Moore said, he confessed in a recorded interview. Goldsberry told the investigators he was having money problems and that he and his cousins went to the farm, cut the lock and stole the cattle. Willett took the cattle and sold them at Owensboro Auction Barn in Kentucky. The three split the profits over dinner at a restaurant in Marion, Ill., Moore said in her report.
Goldsberry said he paid bills with his share and bought his girlfriend an engagement ring.
Goldsberry is scheduled to be arraigned next week at the Bollinger County Courthouse in front of Judge Scott Thomsen. Goldsberry's lawyer, Bryan Greaser, on Wednesday declined to comment on the case.
Shell said the victim hasn't gotten the cattle or payment for them yet.
"We're hopeful they will," he said.
County Road 600, Bollinger County, Mo.