Remember what it was like to be young and in love? Running hand in hand through the Sedona desert, taking selfies, making love under the stars, downing peyote, and enjoying a protracted hallucination about entering the gates of Hell, waking up, taking a lengthy hike in which you stop to sob every few miles because you really do feel like you saw the face of Satan himself, then pausing to deface a federally-protected rock? Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler do, because they did at least some of the above this very weekend, according to the AP.
Authorities are investigating a heart, inscribed with the phrase “Austin + Vanessa,” that was freshly carved into a federally-protected red rock just outside of Sedona. Should the Vanessa and Austin in question in fact be this Vanessa and Austin, and not some other Vanessa and Austin who followed the famous Vanessa and Austin around for several days, kidnapped them, took over Vanessa Hudgens’ Instagram, and framed the couple for the crime, they’ll potentially owe $5,000 and face up to six months in jail.
How’d the authorities find the offending graffiti? Via Hudgens’ Instagram, where the actress has been posting heavily-filtered photos and videos of a trip she and boyfriend Butler took to the area. The photo of the carving has since been deleted, but the internet never forgets, and neither does Coconino National Forest spokesman Brady Smith, who spoke with Us Weekly about the incident.
“This incident is currently under investigation, so there is not much I can share specifically since I am not privy to the details of an investigation until it is complete,” said Smith. “However, I can say that the issue of people carving their names and other things in rocks in the Sedona and surrounding area is always a challenge we face, and try to inform people about its destructive nature. We have found that when one person carves something, it encourages others to carve.”
Hear that, Vanessa and Austin (both the famous ones and the potential framing kidnappers)? Carving is a gateway drug to other carving. When you give a mouse one carved heart, it’ll just start carving hearts all over the damn place, and then what? We wake up one morning to a world full of hearts carved into sh*t? Can you even imagine?
The AP reports that a rep for Hudgens “did not immediately respond to messages,” and Hudgens has continued to Instagram her little heart out (pun intended). Meanwhile, Smith and his cohorts are busy traversing the 250-square-mile Red Rock Ranger District, searching for a heart that matches the one Hudgens posted, “researching social media posts,” and “trying to contact any witnesses.”
Even as they throw their considerable resources behind this unthinkable crime, Smith admits that he understands that sometimes, love makes you do crazy things. “People make mistakes whether knowingly or unknowingly,” Smith said. But, writes the AP, “that doesn’t excuse illegal activity,” he added.