The year ended quietly last week for most, the inevitable passage of time and the otherwise mundane turn of the calendar page. However, one story managed to jump out at me during the second holiday week. According to multiple reports, a rancher in the Northland lost a pair of cows sometime between 5 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 28 and 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 29. The Citizen went to press early last week so the story missed our news cycle.
Yet, I kept coming back to it as both important and maybe a bit symbolic for Platte County. Pardon my cliché, if you will.
Wayne Steinmeyer told KMBC news out of Kansas City that he plans to offer a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Any hope of that money being collected rests on someone involved telling too much of the story.
And it’s a pretty gross story.
Apparently, the killers – and that’s what they are – hiked about a third of a mile onto Steinmeyer’s property and spooked a herd of cows. They shot two cows that had recently given birth, the animals opting to stay close to the newborns rather than flee.
One of the animals was left behind, as a discarded carcass. The other was “field dressed” with an estimated 500 to 700 pounds of meat stolen, according to Steinmeyer’s testimony on KMBC news. That would have an approximate value of $3,000.
Steinmeyer insisted this was the work of someone with knowledge based on the damage inflicted and the dismembered body parts left behind.
This comes across to me as a huge violation of Steinmeyer and maybe should have received even more attention. I’ve received some complaints recently on the abundance of crime stories in our paper, and frankly, it becomes harder and harder to ignore.
A lot of times the high-profile thefts and assaults receive a ton of coverage, like the case featured on this week’s front page where a 20-something-man apparently violated the trust of a person who had previously provided him with help. Even when the details become uncomfortable, I feel a responsibility to let you know what’s going in either in neighborhoods where you live or areas you visit.
In a lot of ways, this story is no different.
Steinmeyer’s land and property were violated, but the outrage didn’t necessarily seem the same. Not even the same as the outrage that would surely follow after a neighbor shot a dog, which happened in Weston, Mo., last year.
The cows aren’t seen as pets, although KMBC’s video showed Steinmeyer affectionately caring for the calf now being bottle fed in wake of the crime.
So this story tells a lot about Platte County. We still have our rural roots in most of the county, especially up north, but development continues to encroach on those enclaves. The people continue to move closer to previously rural areas, and it seems that with that can come crime and unwanted violations of privacy.
This isn’t an isolated problem in Platte County.
Apparently, a sudden uptick in this type of crime occurred in Missouri and Kansas ranches in recent days. With the added reports comes more media attention and hopefully a break in who is responsible for this — a few rogue individuals or maybe a larger plot.
Maybe the attention, even limited to a few outlets, spurs on copycats. It’s really hard to tell with a story so unique.
Having Platte County linked to this type of activity is disgusting and disappointing but relevant.
Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.