The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) is investigating 21-year-old Casey Nocket after she reportedly vandalized at least 10 national parks with her paintings. Nocket was recently on a road trip and left a trail of similar-looking graffiti portraits on rock and stone in these federally protected areas. She photographed the finished products, and even took photos of herself in the act of sketching, before posting the images to Tumblr and Instagram under the username Creepytings—the same name she used to sign her handiwork.
Casey Schreiner broke the story on Modern Hiker, an online hiking guide to trails in southern California and beyond, and spearheaded an effort to find Nocket’s identity. Using social media, hikers with keen knowledge of the locations depicted in Nocket’s images have been able to exchange information and pinpoint the exact locations she’s vandalized, so far. The online community has been feeding this information to the NPS. According to a press release issued by the agency on Wednesday, Nocket’s graffiti has been found in Yosemite, Death Valley, Crater Lake, Zion, and Canyonlands national parks, and they are awaiting confirmation of similar acts in Grand Canyon, Sequoia Kings, Joshua Tree, Rocky Mountain, and Bryce national parks.
“While we can’t discuss details of a case under investigation, we take the issue of vandalism seriously,” the NPS statement said. “National parks exist to preserve and protect our nation’s natural, cultural, and historic heritage for both current and future generations. When someone carves a name or paints an image on these landscapes they diminish the resource itself and the experience park visitors are meant to enjoy when they stand in that place.”
Vandalizing a national park is also a felony punishable by heavy fines and jail time. Last year, vandals spray-painted the iconic cacti of Saguaro National Park, and the New York Times reported that the incident was representative of an uptick in park defacement driven by the urge to post evidence of graffiti art on social media. A petition has been created at whitehouse.gov asking that Nocket get more than a slap on the wrist if she’s found guilty. However, other outlets are debating whether or not the woman’s actions were truly criminal, suggesting her drawings pay homage to the etchings left by native peoples, some as recently as 60 years ago, before the areas were designated as national monuments.
Still, many on social media are expressing anger and dismay. By Wednesday afternoon, all threads from the Creepytings Tumblr account (which may or may not be operated by Nocket) had been deleted, and the phrase “I dun f-ked uuuuup,” was the only post remaining. On Thursday and Friday, whoever was hosting the page continued to field comments like, “I CANNOT WAIT for [her] to be arrested. SHAME,” and obstinately defended the woman’s artwork. As of Sunday, all previous threads had, again, been removed, and a Q&A with the artist was posted. On Friday night, Trailmob.com posted that they’d gained exclusive access to a member of Nocket’s family, who said the young woman is fully cooperating with investigators and showing remorse. This has not been confirmed by the NPS.