By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
TMT Farms vandalism suspect at large
Two plead not guilty in arraignment
comp evans smith tmt.jpg
Autumn Evans, left, and Zachary Smith were charged, along with a juvenile, in vandalism at TMT Farms in December of 2017. Evans and the juvenile pleaded not guilty, while Smith failed to show up for an August 2 arraignment.

Two suspects charged with damaging property at a popular local Christmas lights display last year pled not guilty during a recent arraignment, but a third suspect never showed up in court.

A bench warrant was issued Aug. 2 for Zachary Blake Smith after he failed to show for the arraignment, said Bulloch County Clerk of Courts Heather McNeal.

Autumn Marie Evans, 18, Calbougie Drive, Savannah, and a 15-year-old female each pled not guilty during the recent arraignment. Smith, 21, of Liberty County, remains at large.

All three are charged with second degree criminal damage to property and criminal trespass.

The three were arrested after a Dec. 19 incident where four mannequins and am inflatable reindeer at TMT Farms were vandalized. TMT Farms, owned by Bulloch County Commission Chairman Roy Thompson and his family, is the location where an annual interactive lights display draws tens of thousands of visitors each year.

There is no charge to tour the farm’s extensive drive-through holiday attraction, but the Thompsons collect voluntary donations of nonperishable foods, money and children’s toys for the less fortunate. The event held each year at the Old River Road North property helps provide for hundreds of families in the area.

The night of the vandalism, suspects struck repeatedly and destroyed four mannequins used in a part of the display that depicts scenes from historical Statesboro, with replicas of landmark stores and attractions.

The inflatable reindeer was a more personal addition, as Thompson’s granddaughter had selected the piece for her own yard. The reindeer was intentionally slashed and ruined.

Thompson reported the damage Dec. 25, and several tips came in from visitors that led Bulloch County Sheriff’s investigators to identify and apprehend the suspects.

The display includes acres of lights, inflatables, sculptures, antique cars and tractors, a replica Western town with several storefronts, signs and building replicas of historic Statesboro businesses and more.

The Thompsons start every summer and add to the collection yearly. Several new additions are scheduled for this winter’s display including a new bathroom facility, several more acres of lights and a Christmas tree grain bin, according to Thompson.

McNeal said Tuesday there is not yet a court date set for the case.

Anyone with information on Smith’s whereabouts is asked to call the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office at (912) 764-8888.

 

Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter