Ex-UI employee charged over graffiti in campus restrooms
URBANA — A former University of Illinois employee who allegedly wrote threatening graffiti on the walls of men's restrooms on campus has been charged with a crime.
UI police Sgt. Tom Geis said it was a combination of the persistence of UI Detective Gene Moore and the initiative of patrol officer Eric Stiverson that led police to the arrest of Randal Fulk, 66, who listed an address in the 200 block of West Clark Street, Champaign.
Fulk was charged Tuesday in Champaign County Circuit Court with four counts of defacement of school property, a Class 4 felony.
Geis said there were at least 13 cases between November of last year and late April in which graffiti were written on the walls of stalls in men's rooms in the Henry Administration Building, Gregory Hall, Lincoln Hall and the Undergraduate Library.
The writings had common themes: that UI administrators Phyllis Wise and Bob Easter and UI men's football and basketball coaches Tim Beckman and John Groce are overpaid; sympathy for the Service Employees International Union workers; and that UI graduate and Urbana businessman Shahid Khan should be killed.
"Eighty percent of the graffiti was in Henry," said Geis, saying the rest was spread out among the other three building restrooms. Of the people named in the graffiti, only Easter has an office in Henry.
Usually, within a short time after building service workers cleaned the graffiti off, it would reappear, Geis said.
Because Moore couldn't put a surveillance camera inside the public bathrooms, Geis said Moore had to work with other cameras in the affected areas.
And he talked with multiple building service workers to try to narrow the time frame for the crimes.
"That's kind of a behemoth undertaking for a public restroom," said Geis, noting that up to 100 men a day were frequenting the one in Henry.
Shortly before 8 a.m. on April 25, Stiverson was on patrol near Henry and decided to go check on the restroom since there had been a graffiti report there hours earlier.
"He walked in the restroom and noticed a person in a stall whose feet were not facing away from or toward the stool but were facing one of the walls of the stall," Geis said.
Stiverson went into the neighboring stall and waited for the man to leave. When he did, Stiverson checked and saw graffiti on the wall similar to what had been previously posted.
He immediately left the restroom, found Fulk nearby and asked him questions. Fulk claimed to be a professor running late for a class, which was not true, Geis said. Stiverson detained Fulk while he called Moore, who checked surveillance video.
Within five minutes, Moore determined that the only two people who had entered the restroom in the 20 to 30 minutes since graffiti had been cleaned off were Fulk and Stiverson.
Stiverson then took Fulk to the police department where Moore tried to interview him, but Fulk declined to speak with Moore. Police seized personal journals of Fulk and compared his handwriting to what was scrawled on the walls. They also found a marker on him and recovered a green cup from a stool in the restroom where he had been. He was seen on the video entering the restroom with a green cup in his hand and exiting without it, Geis said.
Fulk was given a notice to appear in court for Tuesday. The charges filed against him allege vandalism incidents that occurred April 9, 16, 23 and 25.
Geis said Fulk was a former academic professional who worked in the UI library system.
Geis conceded the graffiti was "not the crime of the century but it is pesky." His department is still trying to gather information on the amount of time spent cleaning the graffiti for restitution purposes.
And he said the tone of it was "alarming."
"To my knowledge, everyone mentioned was notified of the writings and content and urged to take precautionary measures in case anything came of it," he said.