Four ferrets and two lizards were stolen last month from the Animal House in Clayton. Investigators say the suspects broke into the back wall of the business and went straight for the animals.
"I have cried hysterically several times," says store co-owner Kitty Mayhew. "Now, I've gotten to the point where I'm just very angry."
Police found two of the stolen ferrets at a suspect's house. One of the animals, named Otter, was killed. The ferret was shot with a bow and arrow, then apparently clubbed to death.
Otter was Mayhew's pet.
"[The animals] did nothing to anybody," Mayhew says. "All these animals were waiting for homes, and they did this to them? There's no excuse for it."
Otter was a favorite with Mayhew's 4-year-old son.
"I just told him there were bad people who came in and took them, and maybe the animals are in a good home someplace," says co-owner Scott Cortright.
The owners hope the other ferret and two exotic lizards are found safe and returned.
One of the lizards is a large bearded dragon with a scar on its chin. The other is a Nile monitor -- another large lizard with a crooked tail.
Two of the suspects are 16 years old, and one is 20 years old. The store owners say the oldest suspect is in the Johnston County jail, charged with felonious animal cruelty.