Last Wednesday, at around 4 A.M. Kaylee Johnson's sister, Amanda, was woken by the family cat. She went to check on things when she noticed something was amiss on the front porch. Upon further inspection, she noticed that a statue was missing.
The statue in question, a three-foot, cast-iron replica of one of the famous Chinese Terracotta Army warriors was no longer in its usual place and it was nowhere to be found.
"It had been there when she [Amanda] had gotten home at 10:30 P.M. She told me the next morning when I got up to help get the kids ready for daycare. She asked me if I had moved him and I definitely hadn't," Kaylee said. "We went outside to check and he was gone. Everything else on the porch was still there."
The statue, which has been with Kaylee and her family for nearly 12 years, was a Christmas gift from her mother after she had returned from a trip to China. Kaylee affectionately nicknamed the statue "Terry", short for terracotta.
"He was in the front as basically the guard of the house," she said. "I'm autistic, so I don't really handle things like that well and especially when it comes to my personal property."
The statue holds immense sentimental value as her trip to China was a pivotal moment in her life. Johnson travelled to China when she was 18 and celebrated her 19th birthday there.
"I was teaching English in a school in the city of Weihai and it was really my first big away-from-home [trip] because I was there from mid-August to mid-December. It was an amazing experience because not only did I get to be on my own and away from my family for the first time, but I got to experience the culture and we got to take some vacations within the country, she said. "
During her excursions throughout China, she visited Beijing, The Great Wall of China, as well as Tiananmen Square.
"I made some really great friends and just had such wonderful experiences there. Then coming back and missing my family; my brother had actually been in Argentina for almost a year before I left and he came home while I was away so seeing him again and having that Christmas with us all together was amazing."
Johnson said losing the statue has been devastating, and she continues to be confounded as to why anyone would steal a statue that has no real monetary value, but immense sentimental value to her.
"I can be very attached to objects. Honestly, it was just devastating that that could happen; that someone took the effort because it would have taken a lot of effort, he's a heavy cast iron statue and to just take it from me," she said. "I can't understand why someone would do that."
There was faint hope late Thursday evening when someone alerted Kaylee's sister on social media, Amanda, to a possible sighting of the statue in a local Value Village.
"Unfortunately, it wasn't my Terry. It was a different terracotta warrior statuette, but it was very sweet that someone saw it and thought of us."
She has also been checking garage sale sites as well as Facebook Marketplace and any other place she can think of, hoping to find the statue, but he has yet to turn up. When asked what she would say if she could speak directly to the individual(s) who took the statue, Kaylee had a question for them.
"What drives a person to do something like that? What decisions were made that made them think that is something that I have to have," she asked. "I grew up in Airdrie and I grew up in actually very close to we live now and I just don't understand that people could be capable of doing something like that."
The original Terracotta Army dates back to the late third century from the time of the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. The sculptures depicted his armies and are life-sized ranging from 175 cm to about 200 cm.
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