MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

May 9, 2012

Police arrest man in SAU rodeo horse death

MAGNOLIA, Ark. (AP) – A man sought for questioning in the butchering of a horse stolen from a member of the Southern Arkansas University rodeo team has been arrested in Florida, investigators say.

Sheriff’s deputies had sought William Webster “Billy” Hamilton, 40, since January. Hamilton was picked up Monday in Sebring, Fla., Pike County Sheriff Preston “Pep” Glenn told the Texarkana Gazette (http://is.gd/jutUpb ). He was also sought as a fugitive after failing to pay restitution after an unrelated cattle theft conviction.

Five horses were stolen from the SAU stables in November. Four were found malnourished in McCurtain County, Okla., but a fifth, named Credit Card, was shot to death and had its throat slashed.

Arkansas officials are awaiting a decision on whether Hamilton will waive extradition from Florida. Authorities did not know if the man had a lawyer.

“We got a tip he was in a residence down there and someone was checking up on him and we got another tip. We spoke to the state police and called someone who knew a guy, who knew another guy. It was just police work,” Glenn said.

State police investigator Hays McWhirter said Hamilton’s name came up during the horse-theft investigation. A confidential informant recorded telephone conversations with Jaci Rae Jackson, 19, who was arrested in the thefts and charged with animal cruelty in Credit Card’s death. Jackson, who was a member of the SAU rodeo team, faces three felony charges in McCurtain County, Okla., and six felony charges in Columbia County, Ark.

Jackson allegedly told the informant she wanted Credit Card killed and then “watched as the horse was shot in the head and had its throat slit by Hamilton,” according to an arrest affidavit.

Jackson also told the informant in the telephone conversation Credit Card was “cut into numerous pieces,” allegedly by Hamilton. The dismemberment was for “easy transport and disposal” by Hamilton and a juvenile male, Jackson said in the recorded conversation.

Hamilton was convicted June 11, 2007, in Pike County, Ark., for stealing and selling seven cows to a sale barn, which paid him $3,651.61. He was sentenced to pay a fine of $500 and restitution of $6,559. The sentence would be suspended if Hamilton made payments.

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