By: Patti Weaver

(Stillwater, Okla.) — A former Cushing man, who now lives in Pawnee County, has been ordered to appear before a Payne County judge on Aug. 26 on felony charges alleging he stole six of his relatives’ cows in rural Yale.

Leonard Hayden Hargrove, 20, who listed a rural Jennings address when he posted $10,000 bail, could be incarcerated for as long as 20 years and fined three times the value of the cows if convicted of two counts of larceny of livestock.

The case was investigated by Special Ranger for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Bart L. Perrier, who is commissioned by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, according to his affidavit filed in court records on July 28.

A Yale man contacted the ranger on Feb. 19 to report that he and an elderly woman to whom he is related by marriage were missing cattle from a pasture located east of Yale on Highway 51, the affidavit said.

After Feb. 1 the man noticed “they were missing eight total cows from the property,” the affidavit said. The man “initially noticed that the cows were gone, but all of their newborn calves were left on the property,” the affidavit said.

The man “spoke with several neighbors and family members about the missing cattle and nobody noticed any cattle astray in the area. At that time, (he) became suspicious because the cows had calves that were nursing at the time of their disappearance and it is very unlikely for eight cows to leave their calves,” the affidavit said.

The man said they had two red heifer calves that also went missing in September of 2019 that he had searched for in the neighboring area for weeks, and now believes they were stolen, the affidavit said. The man said “somebody took a squeeze chute and an old Case farm tractor from the same property in January of 2019,” the affidavit said.

The man said he believed that one of his wife’s relatives, “identified as the defendant Hayden Hargrove took the chute and possibly sold it,” the affidavit said. The man said he “confronted the defendant about the missing cattle and the chute and he denied knowing anything about the theft,” the affidavit said. “Later the defendant admitted to (the man) that he allegedly loaned the chute to a friend but would return it, but has failed to do so,” the affidavit alleged.

The man said “after he noticed they were missing cattle from the property in February of 2020, he spoke with the defendant about the possibility of him or one of his friends being involved in taking the missing cattle,” but the defendant denied knowing anything about it and offered to help look for the missing cattle, the affidavit said.

When the special ranger started searching cattle auctions in northeastern Oklahoma, he learned that the defendant had sold cattle at the Payne County Stockyards in Perkins only once, on Feb. 5, the affidavit alleged.

The sale check for $2,465.61 was for three cows consistent with the missing cows owned by the defendant’s elderly relative, the affidavit alleged. The defendant did not own any cattle and should not be selling cattle in his own name, the affidavit said.

In an interview on Feb. 20, the defendant admitted he also stole three cows from his elderly relative’s property southeast of Yale and that he knew that they belonged to the Yale man because the cows were branded and had an ear tag with the Yale man’s name and phone number, the affidavit alleged.

The defendant said he stole these cows on Saturday, Feb 1 and hauled them to the Purcell Livestock Auction weekly Saturday sale, the affidavit alleged.

“This theft and sale of cattle was allegedly the first theft by the defendant in 2020 and was followed by the theft of (his elderly relative’s) cows three days later on Feb. 4, which were sold on Feb. 5 at the Payne County Stockyards,” according to the ranger’s affidavit.

The defendant said he used his gold 2013 Ford F-150 pickup pulling a gold 16′ stock trailer to haul the cattle to the livestock sales, the affidavit alleged. “The defendant stated at the time of the theft of (the man’s) cattle, the defendant took a bucket of cattle feed with him to use to lure the cattle into a set of pens located on the property,” the affidavit alleged.

“The defendant stated that initially he planned to take the cattle in question to Bristow, Ok. to the Mid-America Stockyards, but after loading the cattle he decided to take the cattle to the Oklahoma City area (Purcell, Ok.) to be sold because it would be farther away from the theft area, in an attempt to hide the sale,” the affidavit alleged.

“The defendant stated that he didn’t believe that anybody knew the first three cows were missing so he decided to return to the family farm to steal more cattle because he needed more money,” the affidavit alleged.

“On Tuesday, Feb. 4, the defendant returned to steal another set of cows. The defendant stated that it was near sundown and he backed the trailer to the set of portable pens that was located next to the propane tank. Hargrove again took a bucket of feed with him to use to lure the cattle into a set of pens. After he loaded three cows (the elderly relative’s), he hauled them to the Payne County Stockyards located in Perkins, Ok., where they were sold in the defendant’s name,” to be sold the following day, the affidavit alleged.

On March 17, the special ranger searched sale records at the Mid-America Stockyards in Bristow and discovered a cattle sale under the name of the defendant’s teenaged roommate, who allegedly did not own cattle to be selling, the affidavit said. The sale on Dec. 14, 2019, was for two cows for $1,019.82, the affidavit said.

When the defendant’s teenaged roommate was interviewed on March 17, he said he had known Hargrove for about one and one-half years and became his roommate in Cushing in December of 2019, when they had to pay a lease deposit of $1,250, the affidavit said.

The teenager said the defendant said “they can sell a couple of his (elderly relative’s) cows, allegedly with her consent and they could use the money for the deposit and they would allegedly give her some money also. At the beginning of this cattle sale, (the teenager) stated that he believed the cattle sale was legit,” the affidavit said.

The teenager said that the day before the sale, Dec. 13, 2019, they traveled to the rural Yale location and loaded two cows, the affidavit alleged. The teenager said he was “directed by the defendant where to back up to and then they loaded the cattle in the trailer,” the affidavit alleged.

The teenager said as they approached the unloading area at the Mid-America Stockyards in Bristow, the defendant said, “he accidentally forgot his wallet and identification and that they would need to sell the cattle,” in the teenager’s name, which he agreed to do because he did not think they were doing anything wrong, the affidavit alleged.

“They returned to the Mid-American Stockyards later that evening and got the sale check and returned to Cushing, Ok., for the night,” the affidavit alleged.

The next day, the defendant and his girlfriend, along with the teenager, went to Walmart in Cushing “in an attempt to cash the check, but they would not cash it,” the affidavit alleged.

The teenager said “he was dating a girl and they went to her grandmother’s residence and she agreed to write them a personal check if they endorsed the check over to her. At that time, the check was endorsed to the grandmother and she then wrote a personal check to (the defendant’s girlfriend),” which was deposited in her account, the affidavit alleged.

The teenager “stated that he never received any money for the sale of these cattle,” the affidavit alleged. The teenager was not charged in the case, but listed as a prosecution witness against Hargrove, court records show.

When the investigation began, the defendant’s elderly relative was on hospice and unable to provide a statement about the theft of her cattle; she died on Feb. 27, the affidavit said.