Kapunda’s Alex Boes woke to unbearable news last Wednesday morning.
Mr Boes has become well-known in the community for his adventurous sleuth of teddy bears which pop up in various places across the town.
“They’re a bit of an icon for the town,” he said.
“I’ve been doing it (creating displays) for a couple of years now.”
The bears have been spotted helping to clean the windows of main street shops, making a quick escape from the haunted North Kapunda Hotel and even (illegally) fishing at the duck pond.
On Tuesday evening, Mr Boes – who owns Kapunda Mechanical Repairs – set the teddies up in the main street in a circus display.
They had recently come out of hibernation.
But on Wednesday, February 21, his day started with a heartbreaking phone call he could ‘bearly’ believe.
“I got the call from the girls at Foodworks that the display I had made was completely torn apart, and I might want to get them out the way before the kids heading to school saw it,” he said.
“There were teddies with their heads cut off and their heads put on spikes – very nasty, all gutted.
“I enjoy doing this and the people in town love it … I always thought these bears were real, but seeing their stuffing pulled out has just destroyed my belief.”
Even worse, when Mr Boes arrived at the scene, he discovered a very sinister note alongside the ‘barbearic’ display.
The note quoted the Teddy Bears’ Picnic song.
After letting the police know of the crime, on Thursday morning a breakthrough was made when Mr Boes received a call from one of his clients who had found a mass grave on the road to Tarlee.
“We were doing a bit of a take with ABC and I got a call … he said we’ve found a mass grave on the way to Tarlee with five of your teddies.
“So off we go to rescue the teddies – there was nothing visible on them, but hopefully there’s no bad DNA on them.”
Residents of Kapunda rallied to support Mr Boes and his remaining bears in the wake of the terrible attack, with a number pitching in to help sew the heads on to those which were damaged.
Mr Boes told the Herald the perpetrators had since come forward and apologised, and he wouldn’t be pursuing any further action.
On Sunday, the teddies appeared to have recovered and appeared on the balcony of the North Kapunda Hotel with a message to their attackers.
“You can’t get us up here … nah nah neh na neh!”
The horrific crime attracted widespread media attention across the state and from as far away as Hong Kong.