It's a whodunit causing a lot of stress for a local business owner and now the Marble Falls Police Department is actively investigating who poisoned a tree outside Blair's Western Wear and Boutique.
"Can't believe it, mad. It's funny how a tree affects everybody, but it does,” said Blair’s Western Wear owner, Todd Blair.
Exactly one month ago, Blair drove into his parking lot and noticed his Live Oak tree seemed to be in distress. Suddenly, the leaves had started turning brown.
When he walked closer to the tree to investigate, "you could see a dark circle all the way around the tree,” explained Blair.
He called police and Marble Falls officers arrived to take samples to be sent to the lab. So far, they have confirmed it was poisoned. Blair says his arborist believes it was turpentine.
"It's pretty much fatal,” said Blair. In just one month, the tree has turned primarily brown. The poison also killed many of the surrounding plants.
"All the plants down here have been affected, dying, even some of the rose bushes over there."
Blair planted the tree when he opened the store 16 years ago. The arborist estimates the cost to replace the tree is around $25,000.
It’s a hefty cost for a small business owner, Blair said. "That's replacing the tree and doing away with the soil and stuff around it because it's contaminated."
Since the tree is estimated at $25,000, Marble Falls police consider this a felony offense punishable by up to two years in jail.
Thankfully, Blair does have security cameras set up around the perimeter of his store so he, along with Captain Glenn Hanson at the Marble Falls Police Department, have been combing through hours of surveillance video to try and catch the perpetrator on camera.
"See if we can catch any clue from that,” said Hanson, who tells KVUE the department is taking this very seriously.
In the meantime, Blair has two signs posted around the tree with the words “I’ve been poisoned! Who? Why?”
For Blair, this feels like a personal attack on his business. "Pretty sad looking at it every day seeing another patch of green start to turn yellow."
He’s offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. You can email email@example.com or the Marble Falls Police Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.