11/04/07 — Rustler planned to silence the lamb

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Rustler planned to silence the lamb

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on November 4, 2007 2:08 AM

A Saulston area man who had his palate poised for the taste of ill-gotten mutton is now in custody, authorities say.

David Allen Smith, 45, Bartlett Road, faces a felony county of pursuing or injuring livestock with the intent to steal and convert the same to his own use, Wayne County Sheriff's Office Capt. Tom Effler said.

Detective Sgt. Carl Lancaster said that tips about the sheep rustler came pouring in after media attention.

In his statement, Smith told Lancaster he did plan on making a meal out of Annabelle the sheep, stolen from the historic birthplace of turn-of-the century Gov. Charles B. Aycock.

"Yeah, he said he was planning on eating him," Effler said.

Lancaster said that Smith didn't appear to be in need of free food, and said he assumed Smith's motive was "I guess a free meal, I don't know."

"Oh no, he didn't look impoverished to me, as far as not eating. He was eating good somewhere," Lancaster said.

Effler said the Sheriff's Office was glad to have identified the alleged former captor of Annabelle, a Gulf Coast/Florida native sheep stolen from the 16-acre historic site.

"Yeah, David Smith is the sheep rustler," Effler said.

Leigh Strickland, who manages the historic site, reported that Annabelle was happy to be back on site, providing visitors a firsthand look at early 19th century agricultural life.

Annabelle might not be as happy on the day she is selected to be part of the sheep-shearing demonstration, when schoolkids get to watch wool get harvested the old-fashioned way, with hand shears.

The sheep was recovered on Smith's home street, after a neighbor reported seeing the animal near the tree line at his Bartlett Road home, authorities said.

In the meantime, two other sheep thefts reported since late December at the historic site are still unsolved, Lancaster said.

"They're still under investigation," he said.