ROGERSVILLE - Hawkins County Sheriff's Office investigators have located one of the two antique tractors reported stolen in December from a Bulls Gap museum.
Officials from the Bulls Gap Railroad Museum reported on Dec. 2 that someone had stolen two antique tractors from the museum over the previous two days - a blue 1960s model midsize Massey-Ferguson tractor valued at $5,000 and a 1940s small red Farm All/Cub tractor valued at $6,000.
Sheriff Roger Christian said Wednesday the Massey-Ferguson tractor was found earlier this month hidden in an outbuilding of a residence location on Speedwell Road east of Bulls Gap.
Residents who live nearby told sheriff's deputies they'd seen the tractor in the area.
"There was some people who'd actually seen someone with the tractors," Christian said. "This was a good example of old-fashioned shoe leather investigation where detectives knocked on doors and talked to people and eventually acquired enough information to obtain a search warrant at an individual's residence."
Christian said the man who lives at the residence where the tractor was discovered is the primary suspect. He said the discovery of the tractor was kept quiet for a couple of weeks while detectives attempted to locate that man.
As it turns out, the suspect is apparently in poor health and has left the area for the time being, Christian said. He did not release the suspect's identity.
"We believe the owner of the property is the one who put it there, but we haven't had an opportunity to interview him yet," Christian said. "We still haven't located the Farm All tractor, and we are still asking for help from the public to recover that as well. Local residents were extremely helpful in assisting us and leading us to this residence where the tractor was found."
The Massey-Ferguson tractor was still in the same condition as when it was stolen and may actually have been repaired during the time it was missing, Christian said. It is being stored in the sheriff's department impound lot.
Anyone with information about the Farm All tractor is asked to contact the sheriff's department at 272-4848.