Police arrest suspect in livestock shooting
Orange County sheriff’s deputies have arrested a suspect in the livestock shooting that took place earlier this year and left 15 cattle dead in a field off Mansfield Ferry Road in Vidor. Forty-seven-year-old Orange resident Darrwin Walles, who the Orange County District Attorney indicated was related to the family whose cattle were killed in the incident, was arrested Aug. 15 and charged with cruelty to livestock animals and felony criminal mischief for destruction of property amounting to more than $1,500 in damages, both state jail felonies.
Sheriff Keith Merritt said his office was alerted to the incident Monday, April 15, at approximately 8:50 a.m. by a concerned citizen traveling down Mansfied Ferry Road who saw the cows scattered dead across the field. According to a press release from Sgt. Chad Hogan, the slain cattle were all female and included several calves.
Orange County Deputy Rocky Bridges, who works in livestock and animal control for the sheriff’s office, said on the day of the discovery that a necropsy would be performed on the deceased animals in an effort to find evidence against the person or persons responsible for the massacre, the offender(s) potentially facing felony charges for 15 counts of animal cruelty.
Caretakers of the deceased livestock were at the scene in the early afternoon of April 15, searching for clues as to who might have committed the livestock killings and waiting for a local veterinarian to arrive and examine the animals. One of the caretakers, Judy Williams, said the animals were more than just cattle to her. She cared for and raised some of the herd and had genuine affection for her charges.
“We nursed one of the calves from birth, bottle-feeding it,” she said, adding that she had no idea who would want to harm the cattle. “I tried nursing them (the mortally wounded livestock) back to life, but it didn’t work this time.”
Two bulls initially reported missing after the shooting were later found hiding on the property.
Williams said she walked along the fence line of most of the property and found no bullet casings. According to her, everyone in the neighborhood, especially livestock owners, were concerned about the shootings.
Deputy Bridges said Tuesday, April 16, the initial necropsy revealed the cows died of multiple gunshot wounds, but he was not able to release the caliber of the gun used in the incident. He said evidence was being examined at the crime lab, and several people were being interviewed in regard to the crime. A neighbor reportedly heard gunshots sometime during the night, and law enforcement officers followed up on leads.
At that time, Bridges commented, “I just want us to find out who did it.”
May 23, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office reported they had a possible suspect in the livestock shooting but did not release the name of the individual. Walles, the only suspect, has since been arrested and charged with the crime, according to Orange County District Attorney John Kimbrough. He said Walles was held on $15,000 bonds for both the animal cruelty charge and the felony criminal mischief charge. Kimbrough said he could not release further information regarding the incident but that more would be revealed once the matter goes to trial. The case has been assigned to the 128th District Court presided over by Judge Courtney Arkeen. If convicted of both charges, Walles faces up to four years in state jail and fines up to $20,000.