Hill County man jailed for livestock theft on $1 million bond

Published: Jan. 6, 2019 at 10:28 PM CST
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A Mt. Calm man remained in custody Sunday in the Hill County Jail in lieu of $1 million bond charged with livestock theft and who also faces a list of additional charges Monday.

Judge Lee Harris, in Hillsboro’s 66th District Court, set initial bond for William “Willie” Rittenbaugh, 47, of Mt. Calm, at $1 million but that likely will be increased when Rittenbaugh returns to court Monday where Texas and Southwestern Cattle Rangers Special Ranger Marvin Wills introduces three more felony charges naming Rittenbaugh on Monday, Wills said Sunday afternoon.

A staff member at the Hill County Jail confirmed Rittenbaugh remained in custody but she would not provide any further information about his arrest or the charges he currently faces.

“I was in New Mexico and I had nothing to do with the recent arrest,” Wills said.

But the Gatesville-based ranger said he has a list of separate charges that he’ll present to Judge Harris on Monday and “I’d guess that bond will go much higher,” Wills said.

Wills said he would file two cattle theft charges and one for horse theft.

One person who was close to the recent arrest said the high bond reflected the seriousness of the charge, “possibly being the largest cattle theft in the country”.

Wills, who said this wasn’t his first encounter with Rittenbaugh, on Sept. 24, 2018, charged Misapplication of Fiduciary Property, a first-degree felony, against him.

Wills began that investigation after a victim in McLennan County contacted him reporting that over a 3-year period he purchased more than a 1,000 head of bred cows and seven bulls that were turned over to Rittenbaugh to manage.

In June, the victim demanded the delivery of 511 cows and two years’ worth of calf crops that were presumably under Rittenbaugh’s care and when Rittenbaugh failed to deliver the remaining animals, Wills stepped in to investigate.

Wills obtained an arrest warrant for Rittenbaugh, who was subsequently arrested without incident by Hill County Sheriff’s Deputies.

Wills also oversaw successful presentation of an indictment naming Rittenbaugh in July, 2018, that involved a Hill County rancher who claimed Rittenbaugh had stolen a number of his cattle.

“It is fortunate that the cattle allegedly stolen were branded, making their identification straightforward,” said Wills. “Had the animals not been branded this case would have been difficult to prove and the rancher may not have gotten the cattle back.”