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Cousins confess to dead-cow caper
Culpeper mystery solved as two men turn themselves in to sheriff, admit to leaving dead Holstein outside county offices.

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Date published: 1/29/2004

Wyatt Colvin said he was overcome with guilt even before he and his cousin Josh dumped a dead cow in a Culpeper County Administration Building parking lot on the night of Jan. 16.

"I thought we were going to get caught before we got there," the 21-year-old Viewtown farmer said yesterday.

They didn't. If fact, no one even noticed the carcass in the back of their pickup truck.

"I drove right up in the middle of town, even stopped at a stoplight, with that old cow's head hanging down on the back bumper," said 30-year-old Josh Colvin.

The Colvin boys walked into Sheriff Lee Hart's office yesterday afternoon and confessed to the unusual crime. Each was charged with improperly disposing of a dead animal, a Class IV misdemeanor that's punishable by a maximum $250 fine.

At an impromptu news conference last night beside a torn-down John Deere tractor in the family farm shop, Wyatt and Josh Colvin had high praise for Hart, who persuaded them to come clean, but blasted Culpeper County Animal Control for its initial handling of the matter.

"Hart handled this business the old-fashioned way," said Wyatt Colvin. "He personally came out and talked to us and was very nice. I have nothing but the highest respect for him and his deputies."

But Josh Colvin was not so complimentary of Animal Control.

"They made a threat to a juvenile [his niece], and that's what ticked us off," he said.

The matter began when Animal Control allegedly called the Colvin farm one day and told Wyatt Colvin's 17-year-old sister that a neighbor had complained that there was a dead cow in the Thornton River--which runs through the property--and that Joe Colvin, Wyatt's father and Josh's uncle, "would be charged" unless it was removed.

The Colvins say they stopped their farm work and walked up the 40-foot-wide stream until they found the animal, which they contend was not theirs.

They waded into the chest-high frigid water, hooked a line to the sand-covered carcass, pulled it ashore and buried it.

Then, infuriated because Animal Control had threatened legal action unless they removed a dead cow that wasn't theirs, they sent the county a bill for $700 for inconvenience and actual costs.

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