Bond soars to over $4M suspect in cattle theft
HILLSBORO, Texas — William “Willie” Rittenbaugh, 47, of Mount Calm, is behind bars in Hill County awaiting trial on five felony counts with bonds in excess of $4.25 million. The charges stem from five separate cases under investigation by Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) Special Ranger Marvin Wills and the Hill County Sheriff’s Office.
Rittenbaugh’s legal troubles began in May 2018 when a Hill County rancher accused him of stealing 11 head of cattle. The missing animals were found in Rittenbaugh’s possession, seized and returned to the owner. Rittenbaugh was charged with third-degree felony theft of livestock.
In September, Wills was contacted by another rancher who stated Rittenbaugh failed to deliver on an agreement he made to manage more than 1,000 head of cattle and split the profits from their sale. The investigation into that case led to a first-degree felony misapplication of fiduciary property charge. He was then charged with third-degree felony theft of livestock in Limestone County in connection to a horse theft and released from custody on a $5,000 bond.
Rittenbaugh was out on bond when he was arrested by Hill County Sheriff’s Deputies Dec. 30, 2018, for the theft of 72 head of cattle from another Hill County victim. His bond was set at $1 million in that case, and it was turned over to Wills to continue the investigation. After the latest arrest, State District Judge Lee Harris increased his two previous Hill County bonds to $1.25 million and $1.5 million respectively.
On Jan. 15, 2019, Wills secured another arrest warrant for second-degree felony misappropriation of fiduciary property. Rittenbaugh’s bond, in that case, was set at half-a-million dollars, bringing the total to $4,255,000.
If anyone has additional information that could help investigators or has been a victim of Rittenbaugh they are urged to contact the Hill County Sheriff’s Office at (254) 582-5313 or TSCRA Special Ranger Marvin Wills at (254) 223-2330. Information can also be provided anonymously through TSCRA’s Operation Cow Thief and individuals may be eligible for a cash reward if the information leads to an arrest or indictment.
Special Ranger Wills would like to thank Hill County Chief Deputy R.D. White, Hill County Criminal Investigator Kyle Nevil, the Hill County District Attorney’s Office, especially District Attorney Mark Pratt, and the Limestone County District Attorney’s Office, especially District Attorney Roy Defriend for their assistance in the cases.
–Texas and Southwest Cattle Raisers Association