By NATHAN GREGORY
Starkville Police Department investigators seek information regarding a recent rash of graffiti appearing mostly in the east-central portion of the city limits between Miss. Highway 182 and Miss. Highway 12.
SPD Chief David Lindley said he believes two separate non-gang-related culprits are “tagging” various town property including walls of buildings, utility poles, electric boxes and garbage cans.
A 18-wheeler trailer located behind Starkville Daily News office is among several items in town which have recently been vandalized.
Spray-painted were the words “No Heroes,” along with the number 5, an owl, a six-point Star of David and various indecipherable symbols.
The vandal in this instance is most likely separate from the most long-running perpetrator, Lindley says, which tags various property items with the name “Owens.”
On some property items, the “No Heroes” vandal painted over the “Owens” graffiti — a sign SPD investigator Scott Carrithers says is of disrespect.
Carrithers said he has not found any evidence to indicate either set of graffiti drawings is linked to Mississippi State University students, but that possibility is not out of the question.
“It’s definitely something we can’t ignore,” Carrithers said.
Instances of “Owens” initially appeared earlier this year during the spring and were very elaborate in detail, he said.
After the activity ceased during the summer, the “Owens” graffiti reappeared once MSU’s fall semester began in August, he said, adding that the most recent appearances of the name are much less detailed and all have a capital “O” as well as a capital “S.”
Lindley said a noticeable difference between the two sets of graffiti is that “Owens” frequently paints a five-point star as opposed to the “No Heroes” vandal’s six-point star, he said.
“Initially when (Carrithers) started his work with Owens, it was in more obscure places in a lot more detail. We’ve concentrated a good bit of patrol effort on it in trying to find out who it was and so far we’ve been unsuccessful, “ Lindley said. “It’s returned within the past couple of weeks and there are a lot of similarities but the amount of time it takes to do what he’s doing now is considerably shorter because of the lack of detail in the painting.”
Carrithers said some locations where graffiti can be found is on the back wall of Rick’s Cafe, a large garbage can on beside Montgomery Terrace Apartments and various poles and electric boxes behind Central Station Grill among others.
“Everything I have seen has been from Montgomery Street east, and 95 percent of it has been between (Miss. Highway) 182 and (Miss. Highway) 12,” Carrithers said. “We’ve had a couple that have been found south of (Miss. Highway) 12, but for the most part everything has been isolated to the Montgomery (Street)/Gillespie (Street) area — not in the Cotton District but in the area around the Cotton District.”
Lindley said he does not believe any of the tagging is gang related. Rather, it is more likely people who are “enjoying the mischief (they’re) creating,” he said.
“What we have here is somebody who has no respect for the community, personal property or norms of society. This is something that is relatively common in larger cities but we don’t want our community to become a mecca for street artists and their self-serving sense of ego to share their talent with the world, so we hope to identify these individuals and they will be prosecuted and charged to the fullest extent of the law, just as we’ve done in the past,” Lindley said. “We’re asking the public to help us in identifying the individuals responsible for this, particularly Owens, because he’s caused quite a bit of property damage in the community unnecessarily. Before when we’ve asked for the public’s help, it’s been forthcoming and been appreciated and helpful in identifying the perpetrator, and we hope that will be the case this time as well.”