Alabama fan Harvey Updyke, Auburn tree poisoner, dies at 71

Josh Vitale
Montgomery Advertiser
HarveyUpdyke, a University of Alabama football fan, pleaded guilty to poisoning the Toomer's Oaks in 2010.

Harvey Updyke, the Alabama fan convicted of poisoning Toomer's Oaks in Auburn, died Thursday, his son, Bear, told He was 71 years old.

Updyke became infamous (or famous, depending on what part of Alabama you live in) when he poisoned the oak trees following the Tigers' come-from-behind victory over the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa in 2010, Auburn's national championship season.

He admitted the crime during a call into the "Paul Finebaum Show."

“Let me tell you what I did,” Updyke said. “The weekend after the Iron Bowl, I went to Auburn because I lived 30 miles away, and I poisoned the two Toomer’s trees. I put Spike 80DF in ‘em. They’re not dead yet, but they definitely will die.”

Updyke pleaded guilty to a felony charge of criminal damage in 2013 and spent time in jail. He was also required to pay $800,000 in restitution, but as of October, had paid less than $7,000 of that sum, according to court records.

Harvey A. Updyke Jr.

More:Toomer's Corner oak tree killer Harvey Updyke ordered back to court for missing restitution payments

At the time, Updyke's doctor said the 71-year-old man wasn't well enough to travel to Opelika for court because he suffered from conditions including severe coronary disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes, strokes and depression.

In 2019, Updyke missed a court appearance over his unpaid restitution. He made a public Facebook post that week saying he would travel to the hearing by bus and expected to go to jail and possibly "not make it out" due to his failing health. He ended the post with "ROLL DAMN TIDE!!"

Auburn re-planted the famous oak trees following the incident, and had to do so again in 2017 after someone set fire to the toilet paper draping them following a 2016 win over LSU.

Toomer's Corner, located at the intersection of Magnolia Avenue and College Street, where the Auburn campus meets downtown, is a popular gathering place for Auburn Tigers fans after big athletic victories. A tradition that started with papering the power lines with ticket tape eventually grew into papering the oak trees with toilet paper.

More:Toomer's Corner oak tree killer Harvey Updyke ordered back to court for missing restitution payments

More:Video: One of Toomer's Oaks set on fire after Auburn's win over LSU