Borderland handyman faces prison term for removing illegal aliens from neighbor’s property

‘He’s the kind of neighbor you’d like to have’

The Hargraves are not the only ones who consider McCoy an outstanding, trustworthy, hard-working young man who has contributed to the community unselfishly, in a myriad of ways. McCoy says he likes to work all the time and can not stand sitting around the house. He performs many tasks for the Hargraves in exchange for room and board and a bit of cash, including helping to care for their considerable menagerie, which includes 11 dogs, 6 horses, 4 cats, a donkey, a brand-new litter of six puppies, as well as chickens, ducks and geese.

Bill Miller, a prominent rancher whose family has been in this area since 1898, hired McCoy to build fences for him. He also allows McCoy to cut firewood on his extensive property, which comprises 8,000 acres.

He said that McCoy is a good worker, who impressed him the first time he met him. In the two and a half months he has known McCoy, Miller said he has learned to trust him, allowing him on the property even if when he is not present.

“He’s the kind of neighbor you’d like to have,” Miller said, adding that McCoy presented himself as someone who built fences. When Miller told him how much he would pay him per mile to do the work, McCoy told him that was too much money. “It made me feel like he was looking out for me too.”

Miller said he believes McCoy’s story, that he was just trying to remove the illegals and to help the Border Patrol.

Because McCoy told BP investigators he planned to cut wood on Bill Miller’s ranch later the day he was arrested, Miller received a call. An agent in Douglas asked Miller if it was true that McCoy was working for him.

“I told them, ‘Yes he was,’” Miller said, adding that he told the agents that McCoy was “a good guy.”

The agent told Miller that McCoy had a chainsaw and a trailer with him when he was arrested. Miller told him McCoy was allowed to cut wood on his ranch.

As an example of why people can be alarmed by the presence of illegal aliens, Miller told the story of what happened when his wife was home alone at their secluded ranch house about two years ago.

“My wife had one walk into this house on her. And he knelt down on the kitchen floor,” Miller recalled. She was in the living room when she heard something and entered the kitchen to investigate. “She told him, ‘Get up and get out.’ He didn’t move.”

Miller’s wife retrieved her .38 Special handgun and returned to the kitchen to point it at him.

“Get out,” she repeated.

“And he understood Smith & Wesson,” Miller said.

One week before McCoy encountered the four border crossers, an illegal alien stole Miller’s pickup truck. The Border Patrol apparently failed to notice that he walked across hundreds of acres of open land, despite a high-powered BP camera mounted on a tall mast, a Mobile Surveillance Camera, which is stationed on the ranch, by arrangement with Miller. The cameras are known to pick up images for at least 13 miles.

But in this case, Miller and his son had to trap the pickup thief themselves and retrieve the vehicle.

“He had his cellphone and I had my .45,” Miller said.

In the case of the illegals that McCoy encountered, Miller said he was told by a BP agent that the images of those men were captured on that surveillance camera. The camera also filmed the loading of the illegals into McCoy’s vehicle. The BP agent operating the camera on-site likely relayed the GPS coordinates of the incident scene, about three miles from the camera, to dispatchers in the nearby stations. It is unclear whether the Border Patrol was first alerted to the presence of this group by the agent operating the camera or by a phone call from a civilian.

Three weeks after McCoy encountered 4 illegals near his house, cowboy Everett Ashurst spotted a group of about 17 illegals in camouflage gear about a half a mile from that scene. [Photo by Huey Freeman].
About Huey Freeman 7 Articles
Huey Freeman was a reporter at the Herald Review in Decatur Illinois. as a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois. He is married to Kate Freeman, with four grown children. His books include: Who Shot Nick Ivie? Legendary Locals of Decatur