State News

Police arrest Fayetteville graffiti artist suspect

Posted January 6, 2016 8:10 a.m. EST
Updated January 9, 2016 7:06 a.m. EST

— Police arrested a suspect who they said was responsible for a rash of graffiti around Fayetteville that frustrated downtown business owners.

Jacob David Smith, 24, of the 6550 block of Stillwater Drive, has been charged with defacing public property.

While officers were serving a search warrant on Smith's residence, detectives discovered more than 300 grams of marijuana, manufacturing and packaging materials and more than $800 in cash. Smith was also charged with possession with intent to manufacture, sale and deliver marijuana; maintaining a residence to sell marijuana; and conspiracy to sell marijuana.

Graffiti began showing up in several parts of the city in October, and many of the tags are by someone who uses the name "snake." The name has been on buildings and a bridge trestle.

"It's something we're still investigating. We're still working on it. We're still pushing forward with it," Fayetteville Police Lt. Douglas Nicolois said.

Nicolois is the lead investigator on the case, and he said he thinks there are several individuals leavings tags at different locations in the city.

Nicolois said the clean up is expensive.

"It's approximately $100 per item to be removed," he said.

Police are searching a network of security cameras in hopes of finding a suspect. So far, they've had no luck.

The Fayetteville Observer reported that police do have a blurred photo of someone in a gray hooded sweatshirt with two cans of spray paint attacking a camera lens.

"For the life of me, I can't figure out why there hasn't been real good video of it," Nicolois said. "It takes a couple of seconds to do this graffiti, so it's something that I could step out and do it and jump back in and it may not get picked up."

Fusion Hair Salon is one of the locations hit by the vandals.

"It's pointless," Tehra Thorton, who works at the salon, said. "We want our downtown to be charming and nice and a good place for families and for people to be able to come out and shop and have dinner and have a good time. The graffiti just makes it unwelcoming."

Heidi Kelley with the Downtown Alliance says shopkeepers and property owners want the person prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The alliance is a private association with about 130 members.

Kelley says the graffiti takes away the character and persona of the downtown area.