By E.S. Dement 1

Next morning, Charles Kerr and his helper cut down the beeves, loaded all but one hind quarter, which was to be left for camp, and took for St. Paul, Oregon.

Loren Kerr, knowing it would be another day, at least, before the stock truck would be back, and knowing that there were 29 head of good steers still back on the range, organized his crew for another drive. His one fair cowhand, Young, however, didn't appear to have his heart in the work, and they were not able to start more cattle from their home range. Already having been "spooked" to some extent, the steers were a little more cagey. Kerr returned to headquarters empty-handed and decided to wait for the stock truck to show up. It was the next day around noon that Williams and I drove into the ranch. Aware that some butchering had been done we questioned various members of the outfit as to the number of cattle killed and how they had been handled. We were told that there steers had been slaughtered, their hides having been hidden with the intention of picking them up later and selling them.

My two sons and I made the trip into the Garner ranch the next day after the arrests and turned the eight steers out on the upper part of the ranch feeling they would find their own way back to their home range. A few days later Sergeant Eric Tucker, Dal M. King, attorney whom I had employed as special counsel and my sons, Sam and Russell, and I made horseback trip back through the hills to make a thorough check on the remaining cattle. Arriving at the Garner ranch we found the eight head we had turned loose the day before plus 16 more in their temporary holding pasture. We kicked a hole in their blockade and started the cattle home. Later checking developed that 10 steers was the number Garener, Kerr and Co. got away with.

After all suspects had made bond and been released, C.L. Jameson and Roy Larson, livestock theft investigators, a neighbor and I made another trip to look for the hides and any other evidence we might be able to find. We were not long in locating where the butchering had been done and looking further, following our noses, so to speak, we located most of the offal near an old saw mill site half buried in a saw dust pile but minus the hides. The neighbor and I, after leaving the premises, reasoning that since the hides were to be picked up to be sold they should not be too far off the premises or the road leading out. On our way down, with the aid of a Shepard dog, we detected quite a stench about a mile below the ranch. Stopping the car at a gulch and looking behind some large boulders we found three gunny sacks, each containing a big beef hide with neat round holes where the ears brands had been cut out and stumps where the ears had been severed. The hides of the steers that had been sold to Slesher Bros. were located by Officer Larson, at the time in the Portland area, who went to the plant and demanded them. There were sent to Coquille and with the other three hides salted down and held as evidence.

Sometime in September all six parties were indicted by the grand jury. Trial court convened October 2 and the prosecution felt that Young should be tried first. Both Young and Kerr escaped with hung juries with the understanding that each would be tried again. Both Mrs. Garner and Jett were tried and convicted, Mrs. Garner getting four years and Jett three years in the State penitentiary. Second trials for Young and Kerr did not materialize. The cases were disposed of as described in the following article in the January 22, 1940 issue of the Curry County Reporter.

"An end was written to the 1939 Curry county cattle rustling cases here Saturday when Circuit Judge J. T. Brand approved a motion by District Attorney Grant Williams of Gold Beach moved for dismissal of charges against the remaining four defendants.

"Those cleared include Loren Kerr, Vancouver, Washington, two charges of larceny of livestock; Norris Dewey Coomer, Vancouver, two charges of same nature, and Ralph Stevens, Sixes, one charge, and Burdette Young of Portland.

"It developed at the hearing Saturday that before the circuit court had ruled on the dismissal charges, Kerr listed as principal among the four remaining defendants, had been taken into Gold Beach justice court on a misdemeanor charge, mutilation of hides, and had been fined. Judge Brand expressed his displeasure at this procedure, taking a man into another court by a district attorney on a reduced charge while a more serious charge based on the same evidence was pending in circuit court ... "


A view of the Dement ranch sign as you leave the homestead.