A photo depicting the decapitated head of a missing Walt Disney World animatronic surfaced on Twitter amid an investigation into the figure’s widely publicized disappearance.
Disney blogs were buzzing when clothing items belonging to Buzzy, the star animatronic of the since retired Cranium Command theater show in the now closed Wonders of Life pavilion at Epcot, were reported stolen from the abandoned theater. Disney claimed the stolen items, which included Buzzy’s bomber jacket, green hat, and headphones, were worth an estimated $6,814.
The entire 300 pound figure was later reported missing.
This is Buzzy. He used to be a part of Cranium Command at EPCOT before the attraction closed. He was to be saved as a part of Disney parks history.
He has been stolen. If you recognize him or know of his whereabouts or see listings on merchant sites contact OCPD! pic.twitter.com/0VLKarhbtH— Miss Moth (@MissMothTweets) December 22, 2018
A police investigation pointed to 24-year-old Disney blogger Patrick Spikes, a Walt Disney World cast member who violated Disney protocol by offering backstage looks at the Florida resort through tweets, videos, and podcasts under the handle “BackDoorDisney.”
Days before Spikes was arrested, the since deleted @BackDoorDisney Twitter account tweeted a snapshot of a text message showing Buzzy’s decapitated head. The animatronic was missing its glasses, hat, headphones, and eyes.
Spikes’ arrest warrant reports the @BackDoorDisney Twitter account posted a photo on October 14 showing Buzzy with clothing still attached. Disney alleged Spikes’ phone contained photographs of other animatronics reported stolen the year prior.
Police reported Spikes, who was among the Disney bloggers posting about the animatronic’s disappearance, denied firsthand knowledge of the thefts. In December 2018, investigators reported Spikes had sent another Disney employee photos showing Buzzy’s stolen clothing in Spikes’ vehicle. The photographs also showed a tan backpack later identified as one used to conceal the stolen items.
In controlled text messages, Spikes denied a part in the theft but was aware the stolen clothes sold for $8,000. Police then arrested Spikes for resisting without violence when his cell phone was seized for a search warrant after investigators confronted him with the photos.
Spikes denied the pictures were taken in his vehicle, but a search warrant for Spikes’ residence uncovered the tan backpack used in the thefts. In a March YouTube video titled “Disney Raided My House Searching For Stolen Animatronics,” Spikes argued the investigation was a ploy by Disney to close his account.
“There’s a theory someone talked about that [Walt Disney] Imagineering removed Buzzy and didn’t tell anyone else. So when Operations, the part of the company that runs the Pavillion noticed he was missing, they filed him as ‘stolen,’” Spikes said in the video.
“Did Disney willingly file a report, knowing the thing wasn’t stolen, just to run me down? Because obviously I had been posting a lot of backstage photos and stuff, and information … It almost seems like they wanted my phones because they knew I had a lot of backstage photos on them.”
The arrest warrant reports Spikes “digitally altered” the search warrant when displaying it in the YouTube video declaring his innocence. Spikes removed “the tan bag and the animatronic clothing from the section of the warrant that lists the evidence being sought in the house,” the report reads, indicating Spikes “was aware these items were used in a crime.”
A search warrant for Spikes’ cell phone revealed photos of “numerous pieces of Disney property ... almost all of which was later determined to be stolen.”
ARRESTED: Patrick Spikes, 24, sits behind bars and faces charges of burglary, grand theft, and dealing in stolen property. He entered a restricted area of Disney, stole over $7,000 in items and resold them. Special thanks to the tireless efforts of our Sector 6 detectives. pic.twitter.com/ih3SaewzsN— Orange County Sheriff's Office (@OrangeCoSheriff) May 17, 2019
Disney investigators pointed police to a dress stolen from a figure belonging to the Haunted Mansion, one of several items stolen from the attraction. Financial records showed Spikes received a PayPal payment of $29,451.70 between July and September 2018 from two people.
One of the unnamed buyers sent Spikes $8,890.21 for the Haunted Mansion dress. The buyer later told police Spikes “represented the items as his personal belongings, obtained from Disney with permission.”
The buyer cooperated with the investigation and turned over 18 items purchased from Spikes, and police determined “every one of these items were stolen from Disney World over the course of several burglaries.”
Spikes’ warrant also alleges Spikes falsified a Disney employee ID card for his cousin to gain entry into the park to steal animatronic costumes from The Haunted Mansion. The pair allegedly posed for photos with stolen wigs at a nearby 7-Eleven. Disney reported the 11 stolen items — including a jacket, trousers, a skirt, three wigs, and a tiara — were worth $7,216.1comments
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office on May 17 reported Spikes “faces charges of burglary, grand theft, and dealing in stolen property” regarding the Haunted Mansion heist. Spikes hasn’t been charged with Buzzy’s disappearance.
[H/T]: The Daily Beast