RALEIGH -- It takes a special kind of cruelty to murder a teddy bear - the kind of callousness reserved for kitten kickers and daisy stompers, the brand of meanness practiced by the neighborhood bully and his pimply goons.
One week ago today, villains of that variety sneaked onto Tara Wilson's front porch and stole the life-size black bear her father gave her for Christmas when she was 5. They gouged out its eyes, ripped open its gut, tore out its stuffing and wore its hide around the neighborhood like a trophy.
"It's 'Lord of the Flies,' " said Wilson, a financial planner, referring to William Golding's fictional tale of boyhood violence. "How could anybody massacre something so innocent? Right away, they knew what they were going to do: 'Let's take it, gut it and wear it.'
"It was ugly. That bear was something good."
Police spokesman Jim Sughrue said two suspects, ages 14 and 15, were given juvenile petitions charging them with larceny and with possession of stolen property. Those charges will be handled in a juvenile court.
Wilson hopes to piece Henry back together. Make him better. Stronger. Some of her neighbors have talked about starting up a fund to restore him through a local toy store, or maybe the Build-a-Bear Workshop.
But part of Henry will never return: the part that promised friendship and shelter to a little girl, the part that kept secrets from grown-ups, the part that guarded childhood innocence in its paws.