Facebook post leads to Big Tree vandalism suspects

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BOONE COUNTY - Three suspects have been charged with second degree property damage for allegedly vandalizing the Burr Oak Tree in southern Boone County. 

The Boone County Sheriff's Department said the vandalism happened in late 2015 or early 2016. Detective Tom O'Sullivan said the department received a tip about a Facebook post by one of the suspects, which led to an arrest. He said, without the post, the case may still have been unsolved.

"Vandalism is an extremely hard case to solve, a lot of times you don't have any witnesses. If you're not catching them in the act it's extremely difficult to make a case," O'Sullivan said. "Fortunately, in this instance, with the help of Facebook, we were able to bring charges against these three individuals."

The sheriff's department reports show Joseph Cary, 22, turned himself in to the Boone County Jail on March 17 and was released after posting a $1,000 bond. The report said Ethan Hessing, 20, and Taylor Gee, 18, have both been charged, but neither has been arrested or turned themselves in to authorities. Hessing and Gee are facing the same second degree property damage charge and $1,000 bond as Cary. 

Paige Jeschke was visiting the tree for this first time Tuesday, and said she was motivated to go after learning the landmark is more than 350 years old.  

"That's a long time for something to be here and it's sad that people would come out her and vandalize something so beautiful and something that's really a big part of the community," she said.

This isn't the first time the Burr Oak Tree has been vandalized. O'Sullivan said the sheriff's department gets reports of the tree being vandalized periodically, but "thankfully not with too much frequency." 


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