April 27, 2012
KFVS (IN, MO, & IL)
WILLIAMSON COUNTY, IL (KFVS) -
Authorities believe cattle buyer Ron Shepard's disappearance in Williamson County is no accident.
Meanwhile, his business partner sits in that county's jail, as a whole herd of criminal charges piles up against both men.
"I can't believe it, you know?" Mark Anderson said.
Mark Anderson can't understand why his neighbor, Ron Shepard, managed to get back into the cattle business after serving time in federal prison for cattle deals gone wrong.
"It's like putting a bank robber in a job as a teller at a bank after he's been known for robbing banks," Anderson says.
Shepard's probation officer says his hands were tied, because Jeremy Pierce said Shepard was simply buying for his Brookfield Cattle Company, and not running the business.
When it became clear Shepard was doing more than just buying, that officer sought to revoke Shepard's probation and he disappeared.
Pierce actually reported him missing.
"We'd like to find him," Patton Junction owner Wayne Sharrock says of Shepard. "There is no doubt about it. We'd like to find him. It makes it bad for other buyers."
While Shepard remains missing, Pierce can be found in the Williamson County Jail where he turned himself in on a warrant out of Florida.
During the month of March, authorities say both Shepard and Pierce stocked up on cattle and on criminal charges.
On March 16, Shepard's accused of stealing cattle in Hanson, Kentucky.
On the 20th, both men allegedly schemed to steal cattle money from a buyer and dozens of FFA students in Florida.
Then On the 21st and 23rd, both are accused of buying cattle in Arkansas but never paying.
And on the 26th, Shepard allegedly stole 70 head of cattle in Patton.
Patton Junction owner Wayne Sharrock says he can't believe USDA regulators didn't realize Shepard was buying without the proper bond or permits.
"This guy's been here for three years and he never had a bond," Sharrock points out.
"And they're just now figuring that out?" I say of the USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration.
"They're just now figuring that out," Sharrock repeats. "We were never notified."
Back in Williamson County, Mark Anderson has his own reasons for wanting Shepard found.
He believes Shepard's cattle made his sick and filed a civil lawsuit in hopes of collecting damages.
"Do you think there's any chance you're going to see some resolution here?" I asked Anderson.
"I have no idea," he answers. "I'm hoping, but that's all I got. Hope."
The USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards administration recently filed a civil action against both Shepard and Pierce, accusing both men of dealing in livestock for the past year without being properly registered.
Anyone with information on Ron Shepard's whereabouts is asked to contact the Federal Probation Office in Benton, Ill. at 618-439-4828.