A beloved stuffed animal lost by a traumatized 2-year-old in a Cobble Hill playground last month is facing torture and a painful death — unless the tot’s horrified mother meets the “kidnapper’s” demand for $10,000 worth of cupcakes.
Gluten- and peanut-free, no less.
It might just be a joke — but Susannah Bortner isn’t willing to take that chance.
“I would gladly bake 10,000 cupcakes,” Bortner said, thinking of her toddler, Donovan, and his lost bear, Mr. Bear. “There is a part of me wishing this is real.”
Alas, it likely is not.
But there are a million stories in the naked city — few more gripping, heart-rending and less-plausible than this.
It all started on the otherwise uneventful day of May 9, when Donovan accidentally dropped the teddy bear wrapped in a blue blanket in the PS 29 schoolyard.
“He dropped Mr. Bear, and I didn’t notice until that evening,” Bortner said. “The next day, Mr. Bear was not there.”
Weeks of trauma, anxiety, and sleepless nights for little Donovan led to one last-ditch effort this Sunday: Bortner posted “Lost” signs all over the neighborhood.
The signs featured a photo of Mr. Bear, highlighted by sunrays, plus a mention of a reward of “baked goods” and “good karma.” Bortner hoped the posters would catch the eye of someone with a clue to the whereabouts of the missing bear.
No parent would question this mom’s devotion to getting her child back on a regular sleep schedule.
“It may seem ridiculous to some people, but he [Mr. Bear] is very important to my son,” she said.
A few days after the posters went up, Bortner got her first break in the case.
Unfortunately, the return message — tacked onto the bottom of the original “Lost” poster — consisted of an ultimatum: “We have the blanket. Nothing will happen to it if we get $10,000 of gluten-free cupcakes delivered to this park.”
Lest Bortner not be able to ID the “kidnappers,” the ransom note went on: “I’ll be dressed as a pregnant woman with a baby in a stroller. My accomplice will be wearing a T-shirt, baseball cap, cargo shorts and mandrals. We’ll be obsessing over our toddler.”
Then it added this horrifying warning: “Come alone or this blanket (and bear) goes into the washer. No gentle cycle!”
The last three words were underlined.
In their sinister fashion, the “kidnappers” failed to leave any information on their whereabouts or a contact number.
So the question still remains: do the hooligans mean business?
Bortner understands her odds, but finds some peace and solace from the fact that people are at least paying attention to Donovan’s plight, even if they are just turning the situation into playful banter.
“I’m glad that the people are seeing the posters,” Bortner said.
Seeing, perhaps, but not believing.
“Some people just didn’t get hugged enough as children,” said one man as he stared at the ransom note.
Anyone with any information about Mr. Bear is asked to call Susannah Bortner at (718) 210-6478.