The great goat caper has been solved.
Winston and Mia, the two goats that were kidnapped last weekend from Alonso High School, were returned to their pens at the school Wednesday night after a tip was called in to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
"In my heart of hearts, I thought we never were going to see them again," said Patricia Smith, whose daughter Hailey has raised Winston since he was little. "I am absolutely ecstatic."
Hailey, a 16-year-old junior at the school who cares for the goat as part of the agricultural program, was overcome with emotions when she was reunited with Winston about 7:30 p.m.
"She couldn't speak," Patricia Smith said. "She just broke down in total tears of joy."
Wayne Crowell, the school's resource deputy from the sheriff's office, said someone who lives near the school called authorities after seeing the story in the newspaper and noticing that a neighbor had a couple of new goats.
When deputies showed up at that house, however, the goats had been moved to another location.
"They were taken as a prank," Crowell said, adding that a former Alonso student was involved. "That's what we were told. That's the mentality of kids these days."
No charges had been filed in the case. Taking a goat could be considered grand theft, the deputy said.
Patricia Smith hopes that criminal charges are pursued, even if it's just trespassing on school grounds.
"To think someone would come there and take an animal, it just doesn't make sense," she said. "But they're safe. That's what is important to us."