GREENVILLE – Authorities said an investigation into the death of a rare white buffalo shows the animal died from natural causes. Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks said Lightning Medicine Cloud and its mother, Buffalo Woman, died from a bacterial disease called Black Leg.
He also said neither animal had been skinned, contrary to what the owner of the ranch reported.
On Tuesday, Meeks closed the case but says his evidence contradicts statements by ranch owner Arby Little Soldier that Lightning had been skinned. In fact, law enforcement sources tell News 8, ranch personnel would have known the animal’s condition because they buried it in the first place.
“We have photographs indicating LMC was not skinned. The photographs depict skin and hair on the remains and the vet advised there was a lot of skin that was still left on the remains,” said Meeks.
Meeks also revealed Little Soldier waited six days to report Lightning’s death.
“Lightning Medicine Cloud was deceased at least six days and buried for three days prior to our notification. The remains were decomposed," Meeks said.
Yolanda Blue Horse is a member of Greenville’s Native American Community. During the investigation, Little Soldier turned Blue Horse’s name over as a possible suspect and she was interviewed.
“It’s really funny how he didn’t call the authorities right away. I would’ve called them right off the bat if something happened to something so precious," said Blue Horse.
Little Soldier spoke to News 8 by phone before Tuesday's press conference. He contends the animal was killed, that it was a hate crime and that Hunt County did not take its investigation seriously.
"If they’d have burnt a church down in Greenville they sure would have had the FBI or someone else involved there quickly," said Little Soldier.
News 8 called Little Soldier again this afternoon to ask him why he said Lightning had been skinned and why it took six days to report its death. We have not been able to reach him yet.
In July, he wrote on his blog that investigators questioned him about financial issues, including the more than $40,000 donated to his reward fund to find the killer.