GREENVILLE — Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks released the following statement this afternoon concerning the investigation into the deaths of Lightning Medicine Cloud and Buffalo Woman:
The loss of Lightning Medicine Cloud is a tragedy that not only affected the Native American Community, but our local citizens as well. Throughout the investigation we had a joint effort between local, state, and federal officials and it has been a community effort to solve the case. Due to the significance of the white buffalo calf in the Native American culture we have continually consulted with an American Indian who was in contact with tribal elders and who understands the beliefs and customs of the Native American Community. The Cheyenne River Sioux Nation also requested that this person be a part of the investigation in order to keep them apprised of the facts and progress of the case.
On May 3, 2012, Hunt County Sheriffs Office responded to the Lakota Ranch after information had been obtained that Lightning Medicine Cloud had been killed and skinned. Responding officials were told that Buffalo Woman, the mother of Lightning Medicine Cloud, was found deceased that morning. The Hunt County Sheriffs Office along with the Texas Rangers began an investigation into the death of Lightning Medicine Cloud and Buffalo Woman. Officials obtained what evidence was available and consulted with a veterinarian in reference to the manner of death. We conducted a thorough investigation, interviewed over twenty five people, and looked at every angle in this matter such as hate crimes, vengeance, hunters, etc.
Lightning Medicine Cloud was deceased at least 6 days and buried for three days prior to our notification. The remains were decomposed. We have photographs indicating Lightning Medicine Cloud was not skinned. The photographs depict skin and hair on the remains and the veterinarian advised there was a lot of skin left on the remains.
It is our belief that Lightning Medicine Cloud and Buffalo Woman died of natural causes. Information obtained during the investigation indicated many of the signs and symptoms exhibited by the buffalo were similar to a bacterial disease called blackleg. The investigation also revealed two more buffalo have died at the Lakota Ranch since the passing of Lightning Medicine Cloud and its’ mother. We are closing this case. Should further evidence surface in the future that would indicate the deaths were not natural, we would gladly reopen the case.