Meet Harvey Updyke: ‘Bama Tide Fan and Alleged Tree Killer

Harvey A. Updyke, 62, reportedly really really likes the Alabama Crimson Tide . . . and does not think much of trees. Police arrested Updyke in the poisoning of the historic oak “Toomer’s” trees at Auburn where victories have long been celebrated by students and faculty.

Updyke allegedly poisoned the trees after the Tigers won the national football championship on Jan. 10. He was linked to a call into a radio station where a man bragged about killing the trees: “”OK, let me tell you what I did the weekend after the Iron Bowl,” ‘Al from Dadeville’ told Finebaum on air. “I went to Auburn, Alabama, because I live 30 miles away and I poisoned the two Toomer’s trees. I put Spike80DF in ’em. … They’re not dead yet, but they definitely will die.” He then signed off with “Roll Damn Tide.”

The trees are named for Rolling Toomer’s Corner (a reference to Toomer’s Drugs at the corner of Magnolia and College streets in Auburn).

Experts now fear that the powerful herbicide will migrate to other trees — spreading the destruction. The herbicide has a half-life of 12-15 months, and can stop growth for up to 7 years.

One site claims that Updyke is a former state trooper and was apprehended through a call left with a professor of “turfgrass management” at Auburn University that matched the voice on the radio show. (There is a turfgrass management professor at Auburn University?)

Here (right) is a picture from Updyke’s Facebook page. He has been charged with first-degree criminal mischief — a charge that can come with as much as ten years in jail. 13A-7-21 states:

(a) A person commits the crime of criminal mischief in the first degree if, with intent to damage property, and having no right to do so or any reasonable ground to believe that he or she has such a right, he or she inflicts damages to property:
(1) In an amount exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500); or
(2) By means of an explosion.
(b) Criminal mischief in the first degree is a Class C felony.

College officials have stated that the amount was “a very lethal dose” and hold out little hope for the trees.

I understand the rivalry between Alabama and Auburn, but nothing could justify such an act of senseless destruction. I am a fierce Bears fan but I have never thought of poisoning cheese products to retaliate against the Packers.

The killing of such historic trees should bring a hefty sentence. Unfortunately, it is not a unique crime (here and tree and here)

Jonathan Turley

17 thoughts on “Meet Harvey Updyke: ‘Bama Tide Fan and Alleged Tree Killer”

  1. Sports has become an outlet for hate and people to do stupid. Go back to putting God back in our schools. There is no such thing as separation of church and state. It is not in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, nor the Federalist Papers. The 1947 Everson Case (Supreme Court) was ruled on while this country was recovering from WWII and not paying attention. The only way for college sports or any other sport will continue in peace to Allow God in our Colleges, bring back moral values, and respect. If this does not happen the only relief we will get from Sports Thugs is when they die and are Judged before God. Only in Death is the Fear of God Truly Realized.

  2. Blouise and J.B.H.,Ph.D.,P.E.-

    The Prof is always welcome to some fine Wisconsin cheese at the HenMan abode. But, Lord help the man who tries to boil one of my Usinger Frankfurters or put sauerkraut or any other vegetables on top. This ain’t Chicago!

  3. i have several relatives who very enthusiastic auburn alumni. this is a very big deal for them. i hear theres talk of invading tuskaloosa.
    one thing i remember about alabama are the auburn/alabama football games. it’s kinda funny watching two people who never made it past the 8th grade fighting about which university is better.

  4. RE: Blouise, February 18, 2011 at 11:08 am

    “I was a fierce Bears fan but I have never thought of poisoning cheese products.”

    HenMan … hide the cheddar, Turley’s in town!


    I did not realize the danger facing me…

    Wednesday, I stopped by the Renard’s Cloverleaf Dairy and bought about a pound of 7-Year Cheddar, about a pound of “Bite You Back Cheese,” and a pound of fresh Cheese Curds.

    The curds are already et up.

    I was out on my Yamaha C3 49cc moped, having gone to Green Bay on not-much-used county roads, to buy a copy of Arianna Huffington’s Pigs at the Trough, Revised Edition (2009), and my trip took me right past Lambeau Field.

    Moped trip was beautiful. About 32 degree air temperature. Dressed properly. Proper dressing may be an autism-related skill.

    My parents recognized that I was “different.”

    They figured that the way I was was how I was meant to be.

    Different may be what humanity most urgently needs?

    Go Pack!

    Pack Went!

    Got Cheese, Cheddar and more!

    Next time, Bears?

    Go, Bears!

    I want everyone to win!

  5. This guy should be spending time in jail and I would not want that little baby in his arms to be allowed to be too close to this neanderthal.

  6. If this guy was really a state trooper it casts some doubt (IMO) on any cases he provided evidence in; he has a low threshold for losing and that just might translate to evidence planted where none existed before.

    He should do as much time as the trees were alive.

  7. Bastard….. Ok, his mothers fathers relationship with his sisters sister is in question near the time of his inception….. would he still be a bastard?

    I do recall the Liberty Tree in Texas being poisoned and not for any less of an imbecile’s action either….It was a spurned love…

  8. Good, dog – in the big scheme of things, it’s a GAME. There are more important things in life. Petty, petty, man.

    Based on the above links, it appears that once is all said and done, Updyke may be up-sh*ts-creek without a paddle.

  9. “I was a fierce Bears fan but I have never thought of poisoning cheese products.”

    HenMan … hide the cheddar, Turley’s in town!

  10. This genius embodies the very worst that rabid sports fans have to offer. It’s a damn child’s game played by adults. In the course of human events it is ultimately as meaningful as a popcorn fart. It is most certainly not worth the life of one tree, let alone two, to slake some clowns ego by proxy hero worship.

    Your team lost.

    Big deal.

    Grow up and get a grip.

  11. We are seeing a society that is getting much more angry and is choosing the wrong targets, most of the time. Sports, especially football, is supposed to vicariously resolve some of that passion, but it works best when your team wins and when the fans can have some perspective about it being a “game”.

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