By Eric Adler
Like coyotes, the cattle rustlers struck in darkness. Not on horseback as in the Old West. Over Memorial Day weekend in 2012 — and against a backdrop of rising agricultural theft in Missouri — the modern rustlers arrived along the fence of Bob and Evelyn Darrow’s Greene County property in a truck pulling a trailer.
They snipped his barbed wire and laid it on the ground. Heavy tires flattened tall grass as the truck pulled into a field a distance from the Darrows’ house. Then the rustlers corralled and loaded his breeding stock.
“To them, they were just animals,” said Bob Darrow, 71.
But to him and his psychologist wife, the 13 beef cows, an estimated $16,900 haul, were part of their livelihood as well as animals they had raised from calves and even named. Sage and Pink, Hello and Rosalie, Star, Silk and, among others, Evelyn Darrow’s favorite, Jeepers.
But the thief made a mistake: A tissue was dropped to the ground.
Now — arrested on July 11 after more than a year of investigation that ended in a manhunt in the woods of southwest Missouri — an alleged rustler sits in the Greene County jail on a $1 million bond. If convicted on all counts as a persistent and repeat offender, he could face anywhere from 15 years to life in prison.
At 63, Howard L. Perryman of rural Monett, Mo., stands as lean and weathered as a fencepost.
A known felon in and around Greene and Barry counties for decades, he’s previously been charged with nearly as many felonies, 60, as he is years old. He’s been branded with more than 20 felony convictions since 1967, including robbery, burglary and receiving stolen property. He has spent time in state and federal prisons. More....