Victims outraged after elderly neighbor charged in rash of area horse thefts
A man has been arrested in connection with a rash of horse thefts in the eastern part of Navarro County.
The Clifton Ray "Sonny" Goines, 72, was booked Wednesday evening.
He remained jailed Friday in lieu of bonds totaling $50,000.
He's charged with two counts of theft of livestock.
Sheriff Elmer Tanner said they arrested him at his home near Kerens and took him into custody Wednesday afternoon after obtaining a warrant.
"My detectives have worked diligently on this, and I'm proud to say we made an arrest today," Tanner told KWTX Wednesday.
According to Tanner, investigators believe Goines was stealing horses, then selling them to be slaughtered.
"We believe they were going to kill pens," said Tanner.
They've linked Goines to at least five of the horses, but believe he's responsible for stealing and selling more, Tanner says.
Some of the victims are Goines' neighbors: one family says Goines was even helping them look for their two missing horses the day before his arrest.
"You never know, it's just crazy to think about," said Zach Throndson. "It could happen to anyone, you hear about it happening all the time, I just never thought it would've happened to us."
Throndson says they noticed the horses weren't in their pasture Monday, but Goines told them he'd seen the animals there on Sunday.
"There's a tree line on the place, there's a tank, we though they could have been hidden," said Throndson. "By Tuesday, we got concerned after I drove around and saw donkeys but not horses."
Even then, Throndson thought the horses had probably just gotten out at first.
"But once we checked all the gates and they were locked...something wasn't adding up," he said.
In the last three weeks of March, Tanner says they had about seven horses reported missing or stolen.
"It started becoming apparent these horse were not missing, they were being stolen," said Tanner.
Tanner said they located two of the horses, alive, in other areas of Texas.
Their owner picked them up Friday.
However, Tanner says it's possible others may not be as lucky.
Throndson says they won't give up.
"We just want to find our horses to get the horses back home, safe and sound, so my kids can love on 'em and learn how to ride horses like their mom does," he said. "We'll try to figure out where they went no matter what the outcome is, especially if we can help any of those other people that their horses have gone missing."
Throndson and other victims have put photos of the missing horses on Facebook, hoping someone will come forward with information about their current whereabouts.
Tanner says social media aided in their investigation.
"We started to put the pieces of the puzzle together and got a break in the case, and from that we were able to develop a suspect," said Tanner.
Tanner says the reports of missing and stolen horses are still coming in.
The sheriff's office has enlisted the assistance of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association in the ongoing investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to call NCSO at (903) 654-3002 or TSCRA at 1-800-242-7820.
The ASPCA is also getting involved.