Harvey Updyke Jr.'s neighbors speak out

By Mackenzie Patterson - email

DADEVILLE, AL (WXTX) -  The man suspected of poisoning the Toomer's Corner oaks is out of jail.  Harvey Updyke Jr. was arrested earlier this week.  The oak trees on Toomer's Corner have been the at the heart of tradition for Auburn University for more than 130 years, and experts are saying the trees will likely die.

News Leader Nine went to Dadeville, Alabama today were Updyke rents a home on Lake Martin, but there is still no sign of the suspect.  His neighbors explained this is not uncommon.  Some even called Updyke a recluse.

News Leader Nine tried speaking with the man who rents the house to Updyke, but he refused.  However, he did explain he is in the process of trying to sell the house.

The pain from Toomer's Corner can be felt even in Updyke's neighborhood.  It is full of Auburn fans like this man.  One neighborhood man did not want to reveal his identity but said he was shocked to hear of Updyke's arrest.

"Only met him one time, and he just seemed like a normal guy when I met him."

James Whitman, another resident on Lake Martin, has been an Auburn fan for about 60 years.  He said that he never saw much of Updyke, but he could not believe the man suspected of poisoning the Toomer's oaks lives right across the lake.

"It's just something crazy to think that somebody is that off the charts and would do something like this," said Whitman.

But, Whitman said Auburn tradition will live on despite what happens to the trees

"We'll always be rolling Toomer's no matter if we put a sapling out.  We will be right there the first time we win," said Whitman.

So, while Updyke's home remains empty, the Auburn fans around say what happened is only making them stronger.

"That's what's good about Auburn.  It's just a family--just a family atmosphere," explained Whitman.

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