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Ala. man is accused of poisoning Auburn oaks

Associated Press / February 18, 2011

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AUBURN, Ala. — The man allegedly responsible for poisoning the live oaks at Toomer’s Corner where Auburn fans have long celebrated big wins has been arrested and charged.

Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson said Harvey Almorn Updyke Jr., 62, of Dadeville, was arrested at the police station at 1:26 a.m. yesterday and was charged with one count of first-degree criminal mischief. He said Updyke arrived at the jail without an attorney and could face other charges.

“This person obviously has problems to do something like this,’’ Dawson said at a news conference outside the administration building.

Bond was set at $50,000. If convicted, Updyke could face one to 10 years in prison. A message left with his court-appointed attorney was not immediately returned.

A man calling himself “Al from Dadeville’’ phoned a radio show late last month, claiming he poured herbicide around the 130-year-old oaks that are the scene of celebrations after Auburn’s sports victories. The caller signed off by saying, “Roll Damn Tide.’’

Alabama athletic director Mal Moore decried the poisoning as “a terrible thing to do.’’

Dawson would not confirm that Updyke was the person who called the radio show. Dadeville is a rural town about 30 minutes from Auburn with a population of just over 3,000, according to the 2000 Census.

The two nearby oaks still had remnants of toilet paper from fans who gathered at Toomer’s Corner Wednesday night after hearing of the poisoning.

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