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Roane couple falls prey to horse thief

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By The Staff

By DAMON LAWRENCE

dlawrence@roanecounty.com

Mike Gough and his wife have eight horses.

One in particular — a male quarter horse name Cisco — holds a special place in the couple’s hearts.

“I bought him as a Christmas gift for my wife three years ago,” Gough said.  “Out of all the horses we got, he was the one that we would hate to get gone the worst.”

Gough said that’s exactly what happened last month. He said he went to the pasture to check on his horses and Cisco was gone.

“We looked for him for three days in the woods, on the farm, every ditch,” he said.

The search for Cisco turned up empty. Gough said they were beginning to accept the fact that they might never see Cisco again.

“Then a buddy of mine told me that he knew a guy over in Lenoir City that bought a lot of horses,” Gough said.

Gough said he and his wife went to the man’s farm and discovered Cisco. According to a Roane County Sheriff’s Office offense report, Deputy Bob Childs was told to get in contact with Loudon County Deputy Brad Rayfield about the stolen horse.  

“Deputy Childs made contact with Deputy Rayfield, who informed him that the horse had been sold to a Mr. Ralph Robinette at 1669 Hickory Creek Road in Lenoir City,” the report states.

Robinette was in the hospital at the time, according to the report. Rayfield did speak with his son, Jimmy Robinette, about the horse, according to the report.

“Jimmy Robinette told Deputy Rayfield that he would have to try to go to the hospital to speak with his father to try to find out where or from whom he had purchased the horse,” the report states.

“He also told deputy Rayfield that he had found what appeared to be a hand-written bill of sale for a horse in the amount of $100, but is unsure if this is for the same horse.”

Gough suspects his horse was taken to Lenoir City in a horse trailer. He said the culprit probably used some feed to lure Cisco out of the pasture.

“Those horses will come all around you if you got some feed,” he said. “This horse would be real easy to slap a halter on and walk right out with. I didn’t have my gate locked, so I’m sure it wasn’t too hard to do.”

Gough and his wife live in a rural section of Roane County north of Kingston. They keep closer tabs on all their horses now.  

“We put chains and locks on the gate,” he said. “We’re feeding them in front of the house, checking them every day trying to stay on top of it in case whoever took it comes back.”

Roane County Detective Greg Scalf said the investigation into Gough’s stolen horse is still ongoing. No charges have been filed, but there are several people of interest, according to Scalf.

“If there’s an individual out here stealing livestock, we definitely want to put a stop to it,” he said.   

Gough said the whole episode still has him scratching his head.

“I’m sure stealing horses goes on, but I’ve just never heard about it around here,” he said.