Dramatic Testimony Finally Reveals The Truth Behind Famous Racehorse’s Disappearance

Take a drive through your neighborhood, and chances are you’ll spot a lost animal sign. Now, take a good hard look at that piece of paper. How do you feel? Sad? Angry? Helpless? Yet you’ve probably never even seen that cat or dog before. If we could feel such deep sympathy over an animal we never knew, imagine how we’d feel if instead of getting lost, that animal was taken.

When one of the world’s most beloved racehorses went missing one night in 1983, animal lovers everywhere held their breath in the hope of the animal’s safe return. Thirty years later, questions still linger, though one man claims to have answers that prove this beloved animal’s fate might have been darker than we ever could’ve imagined…

On March 3, 1978, the breeders at the Sheshoon Stud in County Kildare, Ireland, welcomed a bay foal named Shergar into the world. The young stallion could’ve spent his life in relative comfort as a stud, though his owner had very different plans for him.

You see, Shergar’s owner wasn’t just some ordinary breeder: it was Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini, Aga Khan IV, the current Imam of Nizari Ismailism (seen present day, right). Aga Khan wasn’t interested in using Shergar for breeding — he wanted a racehorse.

A Thoroughbred born of a champion sire and pedigreed dam, Shergar had immense potential, and Aga Khan was eager to turn the foal into a prize-winning racehorse. And so, along with the rest of the yearlings, Shergar was brought to England to begin his training.

Under renown trainer Michael Stoute, Shergar blossomed into an impressive talent, captivating all who watched him on the track. Even his jockey, Walter Swinburn, was amazed at how quickly the stallion came into his own.

“As a two-year-old, I sat on him,” Swinburn recalled. “He just gave you that special feel and after that little bit of work, the boss came walking up and I just said to him: ‘I think this is the one you’ve been waiting for.'”

Racing Post

This prediction proved to be spot on, as in his very first race, Shergar placed first by a margin of 2.5 lengths. Though he went on to finish second against an experienced field in his next, all eyes were on the Irish Thoroughbred to take the racing world by storm.

In his third year, Shergar made the leap from up-and-coming talent to superstar, winning his next two races by a combined margin of 22 lengths. He then entered the Epsom Derby and won by ten lengths, the largest margin of victory in the race’s history.

The Telegraph

Following two more wins at the Irish Derby and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, Aga Khan entered Shergar in one more race to prepare for 1981’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. In a shocking turn of events, Shergar wound up placing fourth.

Sky Sports

Concerned over Shergar’s poor performance, Aga Khan and Stoute opted to run a series of tests on the horse to see if poor health had been a factor. Surprisingly, the tests came back negative, though one thing was for sure — Shergar would never race again.

Mirror UK

Instead of risking him at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Aga Khan retired Shergar to the Ballymany Stud in Ireland. His first rutting season was a lucrative one, though unfortunately, it would also be his last.

On the night of February 8, 1983, three masked men entered the home of Ballymany’s head groom Jim Fitzgerald and held him at gunpoint. They didn’t reveal who they were or who had sent them, but one thing was abundantly clear: they were there for Shergar.

Colin Knowles / Flickr

Leading him to the stables, the gunmen ordered Fitzgerald to load the champion stud into a waiting horsebox. With Shergar secured, the assailants then forced the caretaker into the back of their vehicle and sped off into the night.

For the next four hours, the gunmen drove a terrified Fitzgerald through the Irish countryside until finally releasing him in Kilcock, a village some 20 miles from the stud. They demanded £2 million for Shergar’s safe return and told him that if he went to the police, they’d kill both he and his family.

Fitzgerald obliged, though that didn’t stop him from contacting Aga Khan and the rest of Shergar’s ownership syndicate. The group was undoubtedly concerned about their horse’s wellbeing, though that didn’t mean they’d hand over the ransom so willingly.

Leinster Leader

While many of the owners were in favor of Shergar’s speedy return, others wanted assurance that the horse was alive and well. They petitioned the kidnappers for proof that Shergar was safe, though what they got instead didn’t exactly put them at ease.

Though the pictures delivered by the kidnappers did show Shergar, they were only of his head, leading the ownership group to question whether or not the horse was actually safe. Yet this game of back-and-forth became too much for the assailants, and on February 12th, negotiations ended for good.

Wikipedia

Over thirty years passed, and the prize-winning racehorse’s fate remained unknown. While rumors and speculations continued to shroud the case in mystery, there was one admittedly morbid theory that investigators came to accept as fact.

According to Sean O’Callaghan, a former Irish Republican Army informant, the IRA was responsible for Shergar’s abduction. The paramilitary group had apparently planned to use the horse’s ransom to fund their operations, though shortly after leaving Ballymany, the abduction went awry.

Britannica

Evidently, Shergar had spooked while in the IRA’s care and injured his leg, forcing the kidnappers to put him down. The militants then maintained the charade in an effort to collect the money from Aga Khan and his group.

Though no one could say for sure what really happened to Shergar, his memory still lived on in the hearts and minds of all those who witnessed his historic run. A statue of the beloved racehorse still stands in Aga Khan’s Gilltown Stud, a permanent reminder that legends never truly die.

Aga Khan Studs / Twitter

Yet while Shergar’s fate remains a mystery, not all animal abduction cases go unsolved. A few decades after Shergar’s disappearance, authorities a few thousand miles away received a tip about a missing famous canine.

It was a simple study break that led Miguel Camacho, an aspiring electrician, to become tangled with the messy mystery surrounding a kite surfing dog.

While studying for his certification test, Camacho broke away from his books for a little mind-clearing R&R. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and began scrolling through his social media feeds until a particular post caught his eye.

It was a video of a kitesurfing dog, and everyone was losing their minds about it. The black and white Jack Russell Terrier balanced the board and managed the kite rod like a real pro.

Dimitri Maramenides

This talented dog was owned by Dimitri Maramenides, his wife Helen Trotman, their daughter Olivia, and their 16-year-old son Cameron. The family was made up entirely of surfers who spent every weekend on the beach and on their boards.

Dimitri Maramenides/Facebook

Cameron had been surfing since he was only 6 years old. Everyone who knew him could see that he was a natural and would someday make it big in the world of professional kitesurfing.

Outer Banks Magazine

In fact, young Cameron was recruited by Team USA and was set to compete in the 2020 summer Olympics. Him and his family — Zues included — were all at a kiteboarding competition at the north Skyway Bridge beach a few days before when something terrible happened.

Ale Schwartz/IKA

After the Maramenideses looked away for a split second, they turned back around to notice their dog Zeus had been stolen! The family was desperate to get their dog back and spread the word of Zeus’ abduction.

Now, remember Miguel? He’d been sucked down the rabbit hole of Zeus YouTube videos and noticed that the latest featured Cameron pleading that people keep an eye out for Zeus. He’d been taken by a middle-aged white man in a gray Sedan.

WTSP

At first, Miguel felt sympathetic to the family and the pup but didn’t give the story much more thought. However, right when he was about to put his phone back in his pocket, he noticed a gray sedan pulling up — and a middle-aged white man got out of the car.

It looked suspicious at first, but there are plenty of white men driving gray sedans. Still, something kept Miguel alert, and soon the strange man opened the car door and a black-and-white Jack Russell Terrier jumped out to do its business.

WTSP News10

Miguel quickly dialed the phone number left in the video’s comments and to his relief, Cameron picked up. When Miguel quietly described the dog in the park to Cameron, he replied: “Hey man, that’s my dog!” Miguel then quickly called the police but they told him they could take no action without the owner present.

Once Zeus had finished, the man pulled him back into the car and began to drive off. Miguel didn’t have time for this. He had to make it back to school for his test. You know, the one that would determine his grade in a crucial class!

Miguel, though, didn’t want to let him out of his sight. He jumped into his own car and began following the sedan, aware the man ahead of him could very well be dangerous.

After several miles, the man pulled over and got out of his car. “Why are you following me?” he barked at Miguel while approaching him aggressively. “I don’t think that’s your dog,” Miguel calmly responded. “Of course it is!” the man yelled.

So Miguel called out “Zeus!” Excited to hear his name, the dog jumped out of the car and ran towards Miguel, who quickly scooped him up and beat a hasty retreat from his abductor!

After saving the dog, Miguel returned him to his family. “We are still pinching ourselves to see if we are dreaming,” said Helen Trotman, wife of Dimitri Maramenides. “We are so fortunate Miguel was there and was willing to put himself into a possibly dangerous situation to get our dog back.”

Demitri Maramenides/Facebook

Unfortunately, the chase took Miguel longer than he’d have liked. In following the sedan and rescuing Zeus, he missed his engineering test. This, he knew, meant he’d failed the class. His dreams were dead.

But the Maramenideses dulled the sting a little when they asked whether Miguel wanted to receive the $3,500 reward via cash or check; he had no idea what they were talking about. He hadn’t done it for money, he just wanted to save Zeus. Still, the Maramenideses insisted.

Helen Trotman/Facebook

While Miguel was worried that he wouldn’t get his engineering license, the extra cash came at a perfect time before the holidays. “I have two kids,” Miguel said. “I’m gonna do some Christmas shopping for them and put the rest in their savings accounts.”

But best of all? His professor had a little surprise for him too: after hearing what Miguel had done, the electrician teacher was impressed by Miguel’s courage and good heart, so he agreed to let him take the test he had missed!

Miguel risked his safety and his exam grade to save the dog of a stranger and reunite a family, a good deed some people would not have even considered. The Maramenides family will definitely keep a closer watch on Zeus from now on — but they’ll keep taking him out for some surf sessions!

Tampa Bay News courtesy of Helen Trotman

Even though Zeus’s kidnapping was extremely emotional for everyone involved, the fact Miguel was able to make such a selfless sacrifice to bring the family back together is what restores faith. And for one North Carolina family, faith was something they needed desperately.

As the holidays were approaching, the Miller family needed to figure out what they were going to do for Christmas. The decision, this year, would be tough: their home in North Carolina had been destroyed.

KUTV

When Hurricane Florence battered the East Coast in 2017, the Miller’s home succumbed to the swift waters and raging wind. Their house was left unlivable, but they were determined to rebuild.

Debbie Elliott / NPR

Riddled with hard times, Jacob and Jamie Miller wanted a break from their chaotic life. Lucky for them, family and friends were willing to take them in, while their beloved German Shepherd puppy, Frank, stayed in South Carolina with grandma.

Donna Javaras / Facebook

So, they boarded a plane and traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah, to spend Christmas with their extended family. Still, their two boys, Perryn and Rayner, wished their furry friend could join the celebrations.

Donna Javaras / Facebook

Then, shortly after arriving in Utah and just days before Christmas, the oldest son, Perryn, complained of a persistent headache and intense pressure in his head. Concerned for their son, Jacob and Jamie rushed him to the hospital.

Go Fund Me

Upon arrival, doctors immediately examined Perryn to determine what was wrong. Facing test after test, all 8-year-old Perryn could think about was his puppy back home.

Donna Javaras / Facebook

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, doctors were able to pinpoint the cause of Perryn’s pain. Nothing could have prepared the Millers for what the doctors were about to tell them.

Perryn, doctors said, had a tumor growing on his brain. He was diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive, deadly form of cancer, especially in children.

KUTV

Nothing breaks a parent’s heart faster than hearing the words “aggressive,” “deadly,” and “cancer” in relation to their child. But just like every other devastation the Millers had gone through, they weren’t going down without a fight.

KUTV

One last kiss from his parents, and Perryn was rushed into emergency surgery. In an effort to comfort him, Jacob and Jamie promised Frank could visit him once he was out of surgery.

Jennifer Reynolds / Facebook

After several hours, and with much relief, the surgery was completed; doctors successfully removed the tumor from Perryn’s brain. A victory in the young boy’s fight, sure, but there were still mountains to climb in his recovery.

Go Fund Me

A surgery of that magnitude involves significant recovery time, followed by a rigorous course of chemotherapy or radiation treatments to insure zero cancerous cells remain in the body. This meant that the Millers were staying in Utah indefinitely.

Even there, however, they were willing to do whatever it took to help their little boy, even if that meant taking an unpaid extended leave from work and staying put with just a weekend bag. Still, something was missing from their home away from home.

Their German Shepherd, Frank, was stuck in North Carolina. He was only 8 months old at the time, and grandma just couldn’t handle him on her own. And Perryn desperately wanted to be with him.

The Millers

With the help of grandma, they looked into the cost of transporting Frank from North Carolina to Utah, but the $3,600 fee — on top of medical bills and relocation costs — was overwhelming.

Grandma had one last idea though: their community was so generous when they helped the Millers get back on their feet after Hurricane Florence, would it be too much to ask for their help once more?

She posted a Facebook plea requesting if anyone had ideas on how to transport Frank approximately 2,300 miles back to Perryn and his family. Unexpectedly, the post spread across social media like wildfire.

Donna Javaras / Facebook

News of the family’s story reached Wisconsin, where it landed on the screen of Rob and Jennifer Reynolds. Touched by the story, Jennifer shared the heartbreaking post with her husband, a former truck driver.

Jennifer Reynolds / Facebook

With little hesitation, Rob knew he needed to volunteer his time and help reunite this deserving family with their beloved dog. He felt that Frank could “help [Perryn] recover.”

Robert Reynolds / Facebook

Rising before the sun, Rob packed up his Subaru Outback at 4:30 a.m. and embarked on the nearly 20-hour trip from his home in Ladysmith, Wisconsin, to North Carolina. This was just the beginning of the long trip ahead of him.

By the morning of January 3rd, Rob had reached North Carolina to pick up the energetic pup. The next leg of the trip was going to be long and tiring, but Rob hoped that Frank would help him get through it.

Donna Javaras / Facebook

Since the story had already spread across the internet, Rob posted updates on Facebook in regards to their 2,300 mile cross-country trip. As it turns out, Frank was an amazing travel companion!

“Frank and I got along very well,” Rob said. He “would sleep or play with his toys. We’d stop and go for walks. If he wanted to use the bathroom, he’d bump my right arm. He was perfect.”

Robert Reynolds / Facebook

The trip was going so well that Rob even offered to drive Frank back to North Carolina in the future if need be. But after 52 hours of driving, Rob hoped that wouldn’t be the case…

Robert Reynolds / Facebook

On January 5, 2019, Rob and Frank arrived in Salt Lake City. No one was waiting outside the snowy home, but Frank sensed his family was nearby — the pooch ran right to the front door of the home!

Seventy-two hours after leaving North Carolina, Rob rang the doorbell in anticipation, unsure what state the family would be in on the other side. As the front door swung open, Rob knew the drive was totally worth it.

Facebook

Frank and the Millers went crazy at the sight of each other! For the first time in what seemed like forever, Perryn’s face lit up with excitement. The boy explained, “I felt really excited to see Frank. I just really like Frank, and he’s a good dog.”

Facebook

Forever indebted to this kind stranger, Jacob explained “It’s been a whirlwind. It’s been hard. But it’s been overwhelmingly awesome at the same time.”

Go Fund Me

After everything the family had been through, it was a blessing to have Frank back in their arms. The only thing left for the Millers to do was keep on fighting.

CBS News

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