Local News

Sheep Thief Remains on Lam After Animal Located

A sheep that was reported stolen from the birthplace of former Gov. Charles B. Aycock was found Wednesday. The search continues for the man believed to have taken "Annabelle."

Posted Updated
Switch to classic wral.com

PIKEVILLE, N.C. — A sheep that was reported stolen from the birthplace of former Gov. Charles B. Aycock has been found.

Authorities said the sheep was stolen from the Gov. Charles B. Aycock Birthplace site, on Governor Aycock Road in northern Wayne County, at about 4 a.m. Sunday.

Surveillance video showed a man outside the pen at the time of the theft. He is a white male with dark hair, standing 5 feet, 8 inches to 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighing 190 to 210 pounds.

Detectives with the Wayne County Sheriff's Office received a call Wednesday afternoon from Bill Bennett, who lives on the other side of the county from the historic site. He told authorities that the sheep, named Annabelle, was at his residence.

Officials associated with the  arrived with a livestock trailer. After a 20-minute chase through Bennett's yard, they captured the animal and returned her home. Annabelle is expected to make a full recovery.

"It's great. We're glad to have her back. The sheep are a very important part of our program here," said Leigh Strickland, manager of the historic site.

Annabelle was the third sheep stolen from the site in the past year, and officials speculated that someone looking for a free meal has been targeting the pen.

"Maybe someone wants to eat sheep," Strickland said.

The other two sheep were never found, and authorities said the publicity surrounding Annabelle's theft likely spared the animal.

Security has been tightened at the site to protect this flock from any more thieves hopping the fence.

Aycock was governor from 1901 to 1905 and earned a reputation as North Carolina's "educational governor" because of his contributions to the state's public school system, according to the Aycock Birthplace Web site.

Hundreds of students flock to the state historic site annually to learn about Aycock and history of the farm. Because the sheep are kept at the historic site, they are considered state property.

Anyone with any information about the theft is asked to call the Wayne County Sheriff's Office at 919-731-1489 or Crime Stoppers at 919-735-2255.