Detectives say this is a hard case to figure out, but the good news is the horse was found safe and sound.
The horse, Hellfire, had been missing for four weeks. The quarterhorse buckskin mare had been boarded at the small horse farm of Caitlyn Kennedy, who told investigators that a law enforcement impersonator had fooled her into seizing the horse.
"He was in like a dark uniform. You could see the star," Kennedy told KOMO News in a March 25 interview. "I didn't really see what was on his belt."
She said a man claiming to be a deputy showed up with two other people who said they were horse rescue volunteers on reports that Hellfire wasn't being cared for.
"They had multiple complaints about it being neglected, is what his thing was," Kennedy said in March. "And he gave me paperwork and it had all of these dates that they supposedly came out."
Kennedy even invited us into her home to show us video surveillance of what she said were the lights of the fake deputy's vehicle.
Meanwhile, Amanda Fischer-Williams, the horse's owner, had launched a Facebook page trying to find Hellfire.
After our story aired, tips flowed in and detectives found the horse in a field a few miles away - the telltale white star had been clipped and dyed brown.
"That's the horse community," Fischer-Williams said. "Everybody knows everybody, everybody helps everybody. That's how it goes."
But then the stunner: Detectives say Kennedy confessed to making up the whole story. Police say she and an accomplice stole the horse themselves, claiming they thought the horse wasn't being well cared for. She's been charged with theft of livestock and conspiracy.
Fischer-Williams said she had considered Kennedy a friend.
"She's human. She made a mistake," Fischer-Williams said. "Do I forgive the mistake? No, I don't forgive the mistake, but I don't think that makes her a bad person through and through."
Kennedy is being released without bail. The Thurston County Sheriff's Office wondered if Kennedy suspected neglect, why didn't she just call them and have a real deputy come out and look?