Man appears in court for poisoning Toomer's Corner oaks - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Man appears in court for poisoning Toomer's Corner oaks

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Harvey Almorn Updyke, 62,  in court Thursday Harvey Almorn Updyke, 62, in court Thursday
The trees at Toomer's Corner are not likely to survive after an herbicide was applied in lethal amounts. The trees at Toomer's Corner are not likely to survive after an herbicide was applied in lethal amounts.
Snapshot of Toomer's Corner Snapshot of Toomer's Corner
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By Web Staff –  email

AUBURN, AL  (WTVM)  -  The man accused of poisoning Toomer's Corner oaks, was in court Thursday for a hearing. 

Auburn police arrested Harvey Almorn Updyke, 62, from Dadeville, AL Thursday morning. He is charged with criminal mischief for applying an herbicide at Toomer's Corner.

It is believed more charges may be brought against him if more evidence becomes available. 

Updyke is currently in jail on a $50,000 bond, but investigators say they do not want to jeopardized the case by releasing too much information.

[Who is Harvey Updyke?]

Under Alabama law, criminal mischief is a class C felony punishable by 1 to 10 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.

Thursday afternoon, Auburn University and the Auburn Police Department held a press conference answering questions about the fate of the 130-year-old trees.

Wednesday, Auburn University first revealed to the public the old oaks had been poisoned.

Spike 80DF,  an herbicide commonly used to kill trees, was deliberately applied to the trees in lethal amounts. 

Auburn University experts believe the trees are not likely to survive and there is little chance to save the trees.

The herbicide will not pose a danger to humans, but this type of herbicide is normally used to kill trees along fence lines and in industrial areas.

Auburn University officials were alerted to the situation after a person called into Paul Finebaum's radio broadcast on January 27 saying he had poisoned the trees. 

The Paul Finebaum Show is a nationally syndicated radio broadcast.

This is not the first time a prank against a school's beloved icon was pulled off. 

[Click here to read about the latest rival pranks.]

After hearing word of the news, hundreds of Auburn fans ran to Toomer's Corner Wednesday evening with toilet paper to roll the corner.

Rolling the corner is a long-time tradition. 

Fans wrote messages of "get well soon" on the paper before launching them into the branches of the old oaks.  Others created a memorial with rolls of toilet paper. 

Following news of Updykes arrest, a Facebook page call "Free Harvey Updyke" mysteriously appeared.  It's intended purpose is not known. 

Count on News Leader 9 to bring you the latest developments in this case. 

Copyright 2011 WTVM. All rights reserved.

From City of Auburn Police Division

On Thursday, Feb. 17, at 1:26 a.m., the Auburn Police Division arrested Harvey A. Updyke Jr., age 62, of Dadeville, Ala., on a warrant charging him with Criminal Mischief 1st Degree.

His arrest stems from an investigation involving the application of herbicide to the oak trees located at Toomer's Corner in the downtown area. Updyke was transported to the Lee County Detention Center to await bond.

The Auburn Police Division is receiving assistance in the investigation from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshals Service, State of Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (Pesticide Management Section), Tallapoosa County Sheriff's Office, Dadeville Police Department and Auburn University.

From Auburn City Mayor 

Mayor Bill Ham, Jr. made the following statement in response to the poisoning of the Historic Toomer's Oaks:

"On behalf of the citizens of Auburn, I am deeply saddened by the news that someone has poisoned the Toomer's Oaks. Over the years, these beautiful old trees have come to represent the Auburn tradition and spirit. While this unfortunate act affects our entire community, I encourage my fellow citizens to move forward in the Auburn spirit.  I have the utmost confidence in our Police, and in the Auburn University experts fighting to keep these historic oak trees alive.  Let's all wish them the best as they pursue their work".

From Jay Gogue, President, Auburn University

"We will take every step we can to save the Toomer's oaks, which have been the home of countless celebrations and a symbol of the Auburn spirit for generations of Auburn students, fans, alumni and the community."

"It is understandable to feel outrage in reaction to a malicious act of vandalism. However, we should live up to the example we set in becoming national champions and the beliefs expressed in our Auburn Creed. Individuals act alone, not on behalf of anyone or any place, and all universities are vulnerable to and condemn such reprehensible acts."

From Bobby Poundstone, President, Auburn Alumni Association

"Thousands of Auburn alumni  have fond memories of rolling the trees at Toomer's Corner to celebrate sports victories, and the Auburn Alumni Association naturally supports the university in its efforts to safeguard the trees' health. These mighty oaks have been through a lot over the years. We're cheering for them."
 
"Whatever happens to the trees, our response to the situation as alumni will be a measure of our commitment to the Auburn Creed. As an organization, we will continue to act and react in a manner that befits the integrity of our alma mater, and we trust that all Auburn alumni will do the same. I am confident the Auburn family will rally in response to this senseless act in a positive and meaningful way and, as always, the Auburn spirit will endure."

 

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