2 Arkansans accused of vandalizing Mississippi State statue, painting 'Woo Pig' beneath it

By: Youssef Rddad
Published: Thursday, January 24, 2019
Mississippi State University police say vandals spray painted the words "Woo Pig" on a statue of the school's bulldog mascot.
Photo by Mississippi State University Police
Mississippi State University police say vandals spray painted the words "Woo Pig" on a statue of the school's bulldog mascot.

Two former University of Arkansas students were charged with felonies after painting a Mississippi State University mascot statue red and writing "Woo Pig" beneath it last fall, the college's police chief said Wednesday.

Mathes Tillinghast, 24, of Russellville and Timothy Yeldell, 25, of Fayetteville were charged with felony malicious mischief, Mississippi State University Police Chief Vance Rice said.

The two are accused of painting the bronze statue of the school's bulldog mascot, Bully, outside the stadium the night of Sept. 7 or the next morning, police said.

Police arrested Tillinghast in Arkansas last month and were able to locate Yeldell, who surrendered at the Oktibbeha County jail in Mississippi this past week, Rice said.

Photos of the statue posted to social media showed the bronze bulldog covered in red spray paint with the words "Woo Pig" -- an Arkansas chant -- painted on the marble base.

The date "11/17" also was painted on it, signifying the date of the Arkansas football team's blowout loss to the Bulldogs that year.

The painting caused more than $1,000 in damage, Rice said, and the school had to hire an outside specialist to clean the statue.

Initial news of the vandalism drew nearly 1 million views on social media, Rice said, and prompted some Arkansans to offer to pay for the cleanup.

With fierce rivalries between colleges that can spill over into vandalism and property damage, the police chief said he hopes the charges prevent repeated acts.

The charges carry steep penalties. In Mississippi, felony malicious mischief carries a maximum $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

"It's a deterrent," Rice said.

Tillinghast and Yeldell were out on bond ahead of court dates in Oktibbeha County.

State Desk on 01/24/2019

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