Harvey Updyke, the man who poisoned Toomer's Oak Trees at Auburn University has died at the age of 71. He has left behind a debt of $788,588—the fine he was slapped with for poisoning and killing the trees.
A former trooper from Dadeville, Alabama, was an avid fan of the Alabama Football team. He hated the Auburn University team to point where he decided to kill the oak trees at the university. In 2010, the Alabama football team had lost against the Auburn Tigers during the Iron Bowl. This enraged Updyke who planned for a month and found a way to seek revenge for Alabama's loss.
How a Soccer Match Killed Scores of Trees
Updyke used a potent herbicide known as Spike 80DF to poison the trees. He used 500 times the amount of herbicide required to accomplish the task. The trees that were over 80 years old began withering eventually. However, no one was aware of who the culprit was.
Nevertheless, on January 27, 2011, a man called the Paul Finebaum sports radio talk show and boasted about poisoning the oak trees at Auburn University. His identity was not revealed. However, the police began probing and traced the phone call to Harvey Updyke. He had even left a message on the phone of a professor at Auburn University claiming that he had details of the person who had poisoned the trees.
After being arrested, Updyke pleaded guilty to a Class C felony and was charged with criminal damage of an agricultural facility. He was ordered to serve a minimum of six months jail and was slapped with a fine of $800,000 in terms of restoring the trees. In addition to this, he was put under supervised probation for five years.
Hatred Lands Updyke in Jail
Updyke was not allowed to speak about the episode to anyone until he was on probation. However, upon the completion of the probation in 2019, he spoke to the media and revealed the reason behind poisoning the trees. He said that he wanted Auburn people to hate him as much as he hated them because of his love for the Alabama team. "I just don't like Auburn. You know, there are several things in this world that I really and truly don't like, and Auburn is one of them," Updyke had told CBS News.
According to AL.com, Updyke has so far paid $8,143 of the $800,000 fine levied on him. He had made a payment of $1,266 in November 2019, which was the largest sum he had paid in one go. This payment was made after the Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker began discussing placing Updyke in jail for non-payment of the restitution fees.
Between October 31 and December 9, 2019, Updyke had paid $3,330 and the last installment of $399 was paid on December 9. However, he had not made any payments following that payment. The court is said to have decided to close the case as he did not own anything of value, and he was the only person responsible for the crime.