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Exotic bird importers vanish and may have been kidnapped.
On June 7th, 1994, in Richland Hills, Georgia, a state trooper came across a man changing a tire. The license identified the stranded motorist as Moses Lall. But it was a lie. The real Moses Lall was an importer and breeder of exotic birds who owned a ranch 400 miles away in Florida. The man’s real name was Hari Gobin, and he worked for Moses Lall.
If you asked ten people who Moses Hall was, you were likely to get ten different answers; reputable businessman, international smuggler, animal lover, business failure. Whoever he was, he is now missing.
Three days before Hari Gobin was seen in Georgia, a feed company delivery man named Daryl Crewe made a routine stop at Moses Lall’s ranch in Florida. When no one came to meet him at the gate, Daryl hopped the fence.
The ranch was deserted. Hundreds of exotic birds had been left unattended, everything from yellow-headed Amazon parrots to rare, brilliantly colored Macaws. They were valued at $700,000.
Daryl had expected to run into either Moses Lall and his aunt Lila Buerattan, or the ranch hands, Hari Gobin and Roland Felix Eyoum. But Daryl said the ranch was abandoned:
The next day, Daryl returned to find the feed still there and the birds even louder. The authorities were notified, but a bureaucratic slip-up delayed an investigation for ten days.
Eventually, Palm Beach County animal control officers arrived on scene. Lance McLellan was among them:
The birds that had survived were near death. Bird expert Howard Voren helped to revive them:
Animal control experts took charge of the birds, and sheriff’s deputies investigated the puzzling disappearance of caretakers Moses and Lila. Howard Voren said that the pair came from Guyana, South America:
Palm Beach County Sheriffs Det. Glenn Wescott described Lila’s role:
Moses generally handled the business end. He delegated most of the daily chores to Hari Gobin, who was also from Guyana.
Prior to his disappearance, Moses had been working with his ranch hand, Roland Eyoum, on a plan to import reptiles from Africa. Moses had apparently hit a cash crunch and decided to diversify. Rumor has it that to finance the scheme, Moses borrowed money from underworld figures.
Two days after sheriff’s deputies discovered the dying birds, they tracked Roland Eyoum to New York City. But Eyoum had a solid alibi; he proved he had been in New York since before Moses and Lila disappeared. However, Eyoum did tell Det. Wescott a bizarre story by phone that Eyoum said was told to him by his co-worker, Hari Gobin.
If Lila and Moses had been kidnapped, what was the motive? Det. Westcott offered possible scenarios:
What they needed was Hari Gobin’s eyewitness account. But according to Det. Wescott, Gobin had disappeared after his encounter with the police in Georgia:
Did Moses Lall’s questionable business dealings come back to haunt him? Or was someone after the rare, expensive birds? Howard Voren discounts the bird theory:
If Moses’ business dealings did go awry, Det. Wescott wondered why Lila was also targeted:
Police believe that Hari Gobin is crucial to the investigation. If he indeed witnessed a kidnapping, he undoubtedly knows vital details that could solve the case.