By Ed Harris
A wooden butterfly stolen from the Because of 26 mural was turned over to the Southington Police Department. Police said the butterfly did not appear damaged.
The butterfly was taken in as evidence and the police are still investigating the theft.
Police spokesman Sgt. Jeff Dobratz said a woman had returned the butterfly to police earlier today. Dobratz said the woman claimed to have found the butterfly, but did not tell police where.
Dobratz said police are still following up on leads in the investigation.
The theft of the butterfly outraged residents in town.
Twenty-six metal butterflies were attached to the mural on the back of Ragazino’s Garage on Summer Street, along the linear trail. The butterflies were attached to the mural by a wooden sleeve and screws.
They were affixed on Sunday, June 23 and less than a week later, on Friday, June 28, it was noticed that one was missing.
“I think it was vandalism out of ignorance,” said Mary DeCroce, chair of Southington Community Cultural Arts (SCCA), the group behind the mural.
Thirty artists worked on the 150-foot mural. Each of the butterflies, which were made by Peter Veronneau, were individually painted by different artists. There are two different types of butterflies, a larger version to commemorate the six adults lost at Sandy Hook in Newtown and 20 smaller butterflies for the children.
“This is a mural that needs to be respected,” said DeCroce. “It’s a special one. It’s so sad that someone thought they could just take it off the wall.”
DeCroce said the butterfly would be replaced and the other butterflies would be better affixed to the mural.
Residents took to a Because of 26 Facebook post describing the theft to voice their displeasure. Most of the comments voiced outrage over the theft and hope that whoever took it would do the right thing and return it. One poster went as far as offering a reward for the return of the butterfly.
“I am so touched by this,” DeCroce said of the outpouring of community support for the mural and the butterflies.