Several people responded to tonight’s Moment of Geek segment on the tree-rescue efforts in Alabama with questions about whether the poisoner was ever caught and brought to justice. The phone call to the radio show happened on January 27. By February 17, police had arrested a 62-year-old man named Harvey Almorn Updyke, Jr.
At the time, the investigation included the FBI because the EPA plays a role in the regulation of the Spike 80DF herbicide, but so far Updyke faces only state charges. I wasn’t able to find any details on how investigators made a connection between Updyke and the call to the radio show. It seems those details are being kept private so as not to compromise the court case.
In April, Updyke made his first public comments on the incident. Speaking on the same Paul Finebaum radio show as the original call, he expressed regret and described himself as “a crap-stirrer.”
The most recent development in the case appears to have been at the end of June when a judge agreed to postpone Updyke’s trial until the fall. Updyke has pleaded not guilty for reasons of mental disease or defect to charges of criminal mischief and the desecration of a venerated object (interesting, never heard of that), among others. Some reports say the criminal mischief charge can carry a sentence of up to 10 years.