Suspected Bully statue vandals charged

Staff Writer

Two suspects have been charged for vandalizing the Bully statue in the Junction on the Mississippi State campus.

Timothy Yeldell, 25, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, turned himself into the Oktibbeha County Jail on Thursday morning after a warrant was issued for his arrest in connection to the crime that occurred on Sept. 8.

Yeldell was charged with felony malicious mischief. He was release after his bond was set at $5,000, and his next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 26.

MSU Police Chief Vance Rice said Yeldell’s suspected accomplice, Mathes Tillinghast, 24, of Houston, Texas, was booked into the jail on Dec. 22 after a tip was made to the Mississippi State University Police Department.

“Using various investigative techniques, we had enough evidence to develop a warrant for Tillinghast,” Rice said.

Vance said his department called Arkansas Tech University, where Tillinghast was attending, and had their police department pick him up. Tillinghast was then expedited to Oktibbeha County and charged with felony malicious mischief. His bond was set at $5,000, and he will appear in Justice Court on Jan. 22.

Rice said information obtained from Tillinghast’s cellphone is what led to an arrest warrant being issued for Yeldell.

“We’re pleased to have the case closed. It was a high-profile crime that went viral very quickly in both Mississippi and Arkansas. After we posted the information on Facebook and Twitter, we got over 100,000 hits,” Rice said. “We posted asking for tips from anyone who had information.”

Sid Salter, chief communications officer and director of the Office of Public Affairs at MSU, said he is deeply appreciative of the hard work the MSU Police Department has put in to solving this case.

“Social media may have played a role in this, but the case got solved because of good routine police work,” Salter said. “We are always concerned when acts of senseless vandalizations like this occur. At this point, we will watch as the judicial process plays out.”
Salter said he hopes others contemplating a similar act will watch how this unfolds and make better decisions.

“Crimes do have consequences. If you commit a crime, sooner or later it will be found out and you will be charged with it,” Rice said.

The police chief said the damage to the statue totaled over $1,000.

“Spray paint is very hard to remove from marble,” Rice said.

The date “11/17” and the phrase “Woo Pig” were painted on the white base of the statue.

If convicted, the suspects could face up to five years in prison and pay fines up to $10,000.