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Harvey Updyke dead at 71, court case closed

Harvey Updyke dead at 71, court case closed

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Harvey Updyke, the man who poisoned Auburn’s famed Toomer’s Oaks, has died, according to a media report.

Updyke’s son Bear Updyke told AL.com that his father died of natural causes in Louisiana on Thursday afternoon at the age of 71.

Updyke failed to appear for a 2019 court date in Lee County due to his health. A letter submitted to the court by his doctor described his current health and medical diagnoses and went on to state Updyke was not able to travel for the court proceedings, according to court records. 

Updyke confessed to the 2010 poisoning Auburn’s oak trees, traditionally rolled with toilet paper by Auburn students and fans after a big win, when he called into “The Paul Finebaum Show” in 2011.

Updyke pleaded guilty in 2013 to poisoning the Toomer’s Oaks after Auburn’s 2010 Iron Bowl victory. Judge Jacob Walker ordered Updyke to pay $816,694 in restitution to Auburn University and court costs.

Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes told the Opelika-Auburn News that Updyke's court case is now closed.

"Pursuant to his death, there is no avenue left for repayment," Hughes said. "He is the only person responsible for repayment and he has no estate to speak of to pursue."

Updyke had paid $8,580 in restitution payments as of Thursday night, according to court documents.

Updyke's daughter-in-law Marsha Updyke said in a social media post that Updyke was a passionate, family man who carried a gun, wore boots, loved attention and was misunderstood at times, according to a report by the Associated Press. 

"You will be missed by so many," the post reads. "You touched the lives of people, saved people during your time as a DPS officer, you brought life to events and parties. You brought smiles to faces and gave love to people and animals."

"Your presence on earth will be missed, but your spirit will live forever!! We look forward to seeing you again one day!"

The oaks

Auburn tried and failed to save the trees, then decided to replace them in 2015. The oak on Magnolia Avenue did not survive the transplant and was replaced in July 2015.

The new tree was then damaged in 2016 by a fire after Auburn’s win against LSU. Jochen Wiest later pleaded guilty to setting fire to toilet paper hanging from the tree.

The 2015 oaks were replaced in February 2017.

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