JMU fraternity pledge class believed to be responsible for stealing HokieBird statue

Statue valued at $8,500

ROANOKE, Va. – Police say a stolen HokieBird statue has been found!

It was located on the side of a road near Charlottesville on Friday, according to police.

While no arrests have been made yet, one or more James Madison University students who are affiliated with the Sigma Nu Fraternity may have been involved in the theft, according to a spokesman for the fraternity.  

James Madison University confirms that it's been in contact with the Roanoke Police Department regarding the theft.

The university's vice president of student affairs, Tim Miller, sent this statement to 10 News:

Earlier today, we were informed by the Roanoke Police Department that the pledge class of Sigma Nu fraternity stole an $8,500 Hokie Bird statue from the Hotel Roanoke on Wednesday. JMU is fully cooperating with the Roanoke authorities and Sigma Nu National Headquarters to manage this incident and its impact on the community. JMU and Virginia Tech share a long history and a healthy rivalry that is based in mutual respect and actions such as these do not reflect the positive relationship we have with Virginia Tech.

On behalf of JMU, I would like to apologize to the Hotel Roanoke, the artist who created the statue, and to all of Hokie Nation for the failure of leadership within this chapter that led to the thoughtless actions of these individuals. Activities like this have no place in JMU organizations and we expect more from their members and the students elected to lead them.

Fraternities and sororities are values-based organizations and scavenger hunts and other hazing activities that encourage unlawful, demeaning behavior have no place at JMU. Such behavior is not in line with the mission of this university or the values of these organizations and we will endeavor to change a culture where activities such as this still occur. The values of leadership, philanthropy, scholarship, brotherhood/sisterhood and community service all play an important role in the formation of the students who participate in fraternity and sorority life. Incidents like this undermine the foundation of these organizations and we will work harder as a community to ensure that nothing like this happens again in the future.

The What Is A Hokie statue, which was stolen Wednesday from outside the Hotel Roanoke, is now on its way back home.

Police said the statue was damaged, but couldn't provide specifics.

Police said the investigation is ongoing.


Authorities are searching for a HokieBird statue that was once perched outside of The Hotel Roanoke. 

Around 5 a.m., Roanoke police officers say they received a call from the hotel to report the statue stolen. 

Officers found that the HokieBird was gone from its home on the south side of the building, but the base was still intact. 

Authorities believe the statue was stolen between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.

According to Hotel General Manager Brian Wells, hotel surveillance video shows a vehicle that may be involved, but neither the hotel or police would release the video Wednesday.

"(It's) a beautiful, artistic representation. We're proud to represent Virginia Tech here in downtown Roanoke. To have the statue removed from the site overnight was pretty disappointing for Hokie fans everywhere and certainly our guests will miss it until it's returned," Wells said of the statue.

The statue is one of more than 50 that are part of a public art project launched by the Blacksburg Partnership in 2006 in Blacksburg, where Virginia Tech is located.

Various statues have been stolen since 2006. Most have been found and put back on display.

Blacksburg Partnership President Diane Vickers said the organization is sorry to hear about the thefts.

"It's really disappointing that someone would take something that means so much to our region. It really is a symbol of Hokie pride," said Akers.

No arrests have been made in connection with Wednesday's theft. Anyone with information is asked to call police.

About the Authors:

Samantha Smith joined WSLS 10’s award-winning digital team as a content producer in July 2018.