Kathy Sweeney investigates: The case of the missing cattle - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Kathy Sweeney investigates: The case of the missing cattle

Ron Shepard is currently wanted in Illinois, Florida, Kentucky and Arkansas. Ron Shepard is currently wanted in Illinois, Florida, Kentucky and Arkansas.
Patton Junction Owner Wayne Sherrock says Shepard bought cattle there 20-30 times. Patton Junction Owner Wayne Sherrock says Shepard bought cattle there 20-30 times.
Mark Anderson says he was concerned after his cattle got sick. Mark Anderson says he was concerned after his cattle got sick.
In late 2010, Anderson says he googled Ron Shepard's name and turned up his federal conviction. In late 2010, Anderson says he googled Ron Shepard's name and turned up his federal conviction.
On 70 rolling acres in Williamson County, Mark Anderson raises a small herd of registered Polled Herefords. On 70 rolling acres in Williamson County, Mark Anderson raises a small herd of registered Polled Herefords.
PATTON, MO (KFVS) -

It's a missing person case with a shocking twist.

A 36-year-old cattle buyer disappears late last month in Williamson County.

And, as authorities investigate the case, they find a list of arrest warrants following him.

Is he a modern day cattle rustler who was stealing livestock by the truckload?

Here's what I found out.

Monday is auction day at Patton Junction.

The cattle buyers in the stands are all longtime friends who are making deals at this third generation livestock auction.

About three years ago, owner Wayne Sharrock tells me a new buyer showed up.

"He came in slowly," Sharrock recalls.  "He bought a few cattle slowly.  And he was a very likeable person.

His name was Ron Shepard.  A good buyer, Sharrock adds.

According to Sharrock, Shepard bought cattle at Patton Junction 20 to 30 times.

"No issues with him?" I asked.

"None," he answered. "None whatsoever."

On Monday, March 26, Shepard came back out to Patton and Sharrock says he bought about 70 head of cattle.

"He left here approximately 5 or 6 o'clock," said Sharrock.  "And that's the last time he was ever seen."

The next day, Sharrock got a shock.  He learned Shepard's final buy was bogus and the likeable young buyer had actually served time in federal prison for wire fraud involving cattle buys.

Also on that Tuesday, Shepard was reported missing by his boss, Jeremy Pierce.

"Any idea where that cattle could be right now?" I asked.

"It's no telling," Sharrock responds with a shrug. "They could be anywhere."

In the days before Ron Shepard's disappearance, it's alleged he stole cattle from several different auction barns.

I spoke with Mike Nix down in Arkansas.  He has two auction barns.

He says, in the course of two weeks, he made four sales to Shepard.  Some 2000 cattle that would be 18-20 truck loads full, and never got paid.

On 70 rolling acres in Williamson County, Mark Anderson raises a small herd of registered Polled Herefords.

Back in 2009, he became concerned about the man keeping cattle across the road from him.

"When my cattle started coming up sick," Anderson explains.

Anderson says that new neighbor, Ron Shepard, came over just once after one of his cows got into Anderson's field.

Anderson believes his cattle caught an infectious virus from some of the many cattle Shepard moved in and out of this field.

"You'd see cattle leave and new cattle come in," Anderson recalls.

In late 2010, Anderson says he googled Ron Shepard's name and turned up his federal conviction.

"It looks to me like he came up here and started doing the same thing" says Anderson.

Mark Anderson's concerns about his neighbor reached the desk of Ron Shepard's federal probation officer in Benton, Illinois.

That officer tells me he knew Shepard was buying cattle.

Shepard's probation order out of Florida only restricted him from being self-employed in the cattle industry.

But, because of Anderson's concerns, that probation officer says he went ahead and ran a financial investigation on Shepard last year.

And that's when he says it was obvious to him Shepard was doing much more than simply filling cattle orders.

Back in Patton, Wayne Sharrock still can't believe Ron Shepard's alleged deception.

"In the cattle business, everything is trust," Sharrock said. "And when you get to knowing people like this, you know, you trust them."

Ron Shepard's time at Patton Junction and across the Heartland shattered that trust with local cattlemen.

And, his probation officer believes his disappearance is no accident.

"How are you feeling about him now?" I asked Sharrock.

"Not very good," he answers.  "I'd like to find him. Me and a whole bunch of other people would like to find him."

Ron Shepard is currently wanted in Illinois, Florida, Kentucky and Arkansas.

If you know where he is or think you have information that can assist authorities, please contact the Federal Probation Office in Benton, Illinois at 618-439-4828.

Copyright 2012 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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