After all the gates at a farm in Frederick County were left open overnight, four horses went missing.
And, after hours of searching—by foot and horseback, and with drone technology—there was still no evidence of the nearby horses, one of the owners began to think they may have been stolen.
With the help of some online sleuths, she's recovered one of them.
Want to help? You can find active reports for missing horses, including the ones who got off this pasture, here.
Valerie Vollmers said that her horse, Pie, has been returned to her, after the animal was missing for over a week. Three other horses are still missing.
She was helped, in large part, by NetPosse, a division of the nonprofit group Stolen Horse International. NetPosse is a group that uses the Internet to round up a “modern day version of a posse” to help owners locate their missing or stolen horses.
The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that there was an investigation into the missing horse incident at a Mt. Airy pasture.
Vollmers was able to recover her horse in Pennsylvania, not far from the Maryland line. She said she confronted a couple who had bought Pie, got permission to enter their property, and took Pie back home.
"You need a title to sell a car," Vollmers said. "But you don't need anything in the state of Pennylsvania to sell a horse." Vollmers said she wants to see more protection for horse owners, who could have their equines stolen by anyone who goes on to their property.
Pie and Vollmers have a special relationship, she said, because she’s raised him from the time the horse was born.
She bought Pie’s mother, Pumpkin, at a horse auction, without knowing she was pregnant.
“Pie was born on the farm,” she said. “I’ve got all her baby pictures. Within 24 hours or so, I had a halter on her. I had to teach her how to lead, which is not easy. I taught her how to get on a trailer.”
According to NetPosse, two of the horses are still missing and one has yet to be recovered.
One of those missing horses is April, who belongs to Tylen, a 9-year-old boy.
“It makes me upset,” Tylen said. “A lot.”
Tylen, whose father requested the child’s last name not be used, said he’s had April for as long as he can remember growing up.
His legs hurt, he said, “Because I’ve been walking for miles looking for my horse.”
To help aid the searchers, Geoffrey Green, who operates a drone company, VSI Aerial, offered his services pro bono
Green said he saw Vollmers posting on Facebook about the missing horses, and decided to go and help out.
Green, a veteran of the Marines, offers services for photography, videography and inspection.
“It was about having the ability and the resources,” Green said.