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Man arrested in poisoning of oaks at Toomer's Corner

Experts believe the trees are not likely to survive. Dave Miller

Print This February 17, 2011, 11:30 AM EST

According to WTVM News Leader 9 in Columbus, Ga., an arrest has been made in the poisoning of the Toomer's Corner oaks.

Auburn police arrested 62-year-old Harvey Almorn Updyke from Dadeville, Al. He will be charged with criminal mischief for applying an herbicide at Toomer's Corner, a traditional gathering place for Tigers fans after major victories. Most recently, it was the scene of celebration for Auburn's victory over Oregon in the BCS National Championship game on Jan. 10.

Held on $50,000 bond, Updyke faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

On Wednesday, the university reported the 130-year-old oaks located on Toomer's Corner had been poisoned. The university learned that a caller to The Paul Finebaum Show, a nationally syndicated radio show based in Birmingham, on Jan. 27, claimed he had applied the herbicide. Authorities believe Updyke is the "Al from Dadeville" caller who bragged on the show that he poisoned the trees. According to the call Finebaum replayed on Wednesday, the man said he believed Auburn fans rolled Toomer’s Corner to celebrate the Jan. 26, 1983, death of former Alabama head coach Bear Bryant. He ended his call that day by exclaiming, "Roll Damn Tide!"

Experts believe the trees are not likely to survive.

After hearing the news, hundreds of Auburn fans visited Toomer's Corner Wednesday evening with toilet paper in hand. Some fans wrote messages of "get well soon" on the paper before launching the strands into the branches of the old oaks.

Email dave.miller@nationalfootballpost.com or follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave

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