Tahlequah Daily Press

January 25, 2013

Three charged with cattle rustling

By JOSH NEWTON
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Three men have been charged for allegedly conspiring to steal cattle from a Cherokee County man.

Prosecutors are charging the three with 10 counts each of larceny of domestic animals, and one count each of conspiracy to commit a felony. The men charged include Keith Edward Rock, 50, of Checotah; Nathan A. Deckard, 28, of Tahlequah; and Joel A. Maker, 50, of Tahlequah.

Rock was arrested in November for taking 10 head of cattle from Speedy and Scott Chaffin. Sheriff’s deputies said a member of the Chaffin family came upon Rock as he was driving away with a trailer full of cattle, and realized they were his family’s animals.

Deputies responded as the family followed Rock’s truck around the area. Rock later drove back to where the cattle had been taken, and was arrested for larceny.

Sheriff’s Investigator Harold Thomas began working the case with assistance from Patrick Blake, a special agent and investigator for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food an Forestry.

According to Blake, he and Thomas went to the pasture where the Chaffins’ cattle were and discovered feed and hay on the ground outside the corrals. Blake said it appeared someone used the food to entice cattle into the corral, where they were later penned in and loaded onto the cattle trailer. Deckard lives just a few feet away, Blake said; Maker previously lived just east of the location.

Investigators spoke to Deckard, who allegedly admitted he worked with Maker to catch the animals and load them onto the trailer.

Deckard allegedly told the investigators he and Maker had discussed stealing the cattle at least two weeks prior, and Deckard was expecting up to $200 as payment for his help.

Thomas said Maker and Deckard were in the truck with Rock when the Chaffins caught it driving away in November, but the two hid inside and were able to slip away when Rock drove back to the pasture.

Investigators learned the three men had conspired in phone calls and via text messages to take the cattle with the intention of having them sold in McAlester.

Rock bonded out of the Cherokee County Detention Center in November, and warrants were issued this week for Maker and Deckard.

Thomas said Deckard was set to turn himself in Friday morning, but investigators have been unable to locate Maker.

Anyone with information about Maker’s location is asked to call the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office at (918) 456-2583.