By Josh Newton
Two Tahlequah men and a Checotah man have been charged with stealing cattle in Cherokee County.
Each is charged with 10 counts of larceny of domestic animals and one count of conspiracy to commit a felony. The men are 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 allegedly 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 members of the family followed Rock’s truck. Rock later drove back to the Chaffin ranch, where he was arrested for larceny.
Sheriff’s Investigator Harold Thomas worked on the case with Patrick Blake, an investigator for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
Blake said he and Thomas went to the pasture where the Chaffins kept their cattle and discovered feed and hay on the ground outside the corrals. Blake said it appeared that someone used the food to entice cattle into the corral, where they were later penned and loaded into the cattle trailer. Deckard lives nearby, Blake said; Maker used to live just east of the ranch.
Investigators spoke to Deckard, who allegedly admitted that he worked with Maker to load the cattle into the trailer.
Deckard allegedly told the investigators that he and Maker had discussed stealing the cattle at least two weeks before the theft, and Deckard was expecting up to $200 for his help.
Thomas said Maker and Deckard were in the truck with Rock when the Chaffins saw it drive away in November, but the two hid inside and were able to slip away when Rock drove back to the pasture.
Investigators learned that the three men had allegedly conspired through phone calls and text messages to take the cattle and sell them in McAlester.
Rock bonded out of the Cherokee County Detention Center in November.
Thomas said Deckard was scheduled to surrender, but investigators have been unable to find Maker.
Anyone with information about Maker’s whereabouts is asked to call the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office at (918) 456-2583.
Josh Newton writes for the Tahlequah Daily Press.