STATE COLLEGE, Pa (WTAJ) — Police have charged a woman who allegedly vandalized multiple Penn State buildings, including the Nittany Lion Shrine in May.
Julia Cipparulo, 23, has been charged with vandalizing the Nittany Lion Shrine, Old Main and Hintz Family Alumni Center on May 8.
Police were able to determine based on security video, evidence they found on campus and Cipparulo’s TikTok account that she defaced Penn State property, according to court documents.
On May 17, after police searched Cipparulo’s New Jersey home, she returned one part of the lion’s ear and confessed to traveling from her home to State College to vandalize the lion shrine and buildings. This was reportedly backed up by geolocational records and a note on her phone leaving a step-by-step plan for the vandalism, according to police.
Police responded to the vandalism around 7 a.m. on May 8, and saw red paint on the lion’s left ear and upon further investigating, they realized that part of the ear was broken off. On the back side of the shrine, there was red paint all over and the names “Osaze”, “Tim”, “Ashley” and “Justine” were spray-painted on the walkway behind the shrine, according to police. Those names are in reference to Penn State students who’ve passed away within the past three years.
While reviewing the security video, police saw Cipparulo, who was wearing dark clothes with a blue PSU ball cap, black headphones with a silver bar and a face mask throwing away a backpack and removing a white hoodie just before 4:50 a.m. Police later searched the backpack and found it covered in red paint, the same color as the lion shrine, and found a pair of hyper tough gloves, a tube of “apple red” paint, two pieces of the lion shrine’s ear, a sharpie, a candle, three lighters and a gold earring with a long brown hair attached.
Around 4:50 a.m. Cipparulo reportedly vandalized the front doors of Old Main and wrote “time is up” on the middle south door and “death by cop”, “death by hazing”, “death by suicide” and “death by PSU culture” in blue sharpie on side doors, according to police.
Approximately 10 minutes later, reportedly, Cipparulo can be seen spray painting the letters “FTG” (For the Glory) on the Hintz Alumni Center. She was also seen writing in red on a window “Should have listened when you had the chance – ADG.” Cipparulo then wrote on the Deike Building in red marker “Deike ghost wuz here BOO.”
In 2021, the shrine had been reportedly vandalized by Cipparulo when she covered it in teal paint. She also defaced Old Main and the Hintz Alumni Centre with permanent markers then. This lead police to suspect her of this crime and investigate her Tik Tok page.
Between April 19, 2022, and May 4, 2022, Cipparulo had multiple posts that revealed her grievances against the university, according to police. They were able to review Cipparulo’s Tik Tok and in one video, posted on March 7, 2021, Cipparulo was wearing a gold earring, which reportedly matched the one police found at the scene. They also watched a video that included Cipparulo utilizing the same black headphones with a sliver frame on the side in a separate TikTok, according to police.
On May 17, Hillsborough Police Department, of New Jersey, searched Cipparulo’s residence and found a single gold earring, matching the one police had in evidence, as well as a notepad that listed her need of red paint, spray paint, candles and other items. They also found the Penn State ball cap in her car that had a red streak on the brim, according to police.
Cipparulo was told by police that part of the ear had yet to be recovered and if it was returned, it would lower the cost to repair the statue. Police left and shortly after, she contacted them, letting them know where the ear was.
After returning the ear to police, they asked her why she vandalized the campus. Cipparulo told police that was lighting candles at different campus locations for the four students that had died. She also told police that she was frustrated and felt like she was a disgrace as she was a Lion Ambassador, one who takes prospective students on tours of the campus. She felt she might have tricked people into coming into Penn State and could have been the cause of them getting hurt like she was.
“This was my peaceful protest,” Cipparulo said. “The back of the lion is red, because to the front it looks like everything is ok. Just like Penn State, everything is ok. From the back, it’s all bloody and broken. The names spray-painted on the ground, no one seems to think about them anymore. The ear, it’s because people are finally going to notice. It’s not hiding anymore. It’s bloody and broken.”
To repair and restore the damages to the university buildings and landmarks, the total cost was $26,029.23, according to the police.
Cipparulo was charged with felony vandalism, criminal mischief, theft and receiving stolen property. She had a preliminary hearing on Monday and has her preliminary hearing scheduled for July 6.