ARACHNAPPED! Nine-foot-wide giant spider gets stolen from Browne's Addition yard

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to be thieves.

click to enlarge Fluffy, a terrifying giant yard spider, guards the treasure of Browne's Addition in this 2019 photo. - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
Daniel Walters photo
Fluffy, a terrifying giant yard spider, guards the treasure of Browne's Addition in this 2019 photo.

When Tyler Henthorne went to sleep in his Browne's Addition bed Thursday night, nothing was amiss. It was just like any other night. The gargantuan spider was on his front lawn, right where he left it. 
click to enlarge DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
Daniel Walters photo

He woke up at 4:15 am, much earlier than usual. It was before dawn, still cold, with just a slight wind. Something was wrong. He looked out the window, and saw two deer, wandering in the dark.

But it was what he didn't see that was spooky.

His beloved spider — a 9-foot-wide plastic foam Halloween spider prop that his wife named "Fluffy" — had been stolen. (Giant spider abductions by strangers are very rare, but tend to draw a lot of sensationalist news coverage when they do happen.)
click to enlarge A patch of dirt where a spider should be, but isn't. - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
Daniel Walters photo
A patch of dirt where a spider should be, but isn't.

This wasn't just your average gargantuan yard spider.

"There's only about three known spiders of that type and size in Eastern Washington, and we've accounted for two of those," says Henthorne. "This is a very rare item — if a large spider is seen, it's probably ours."

Indeed, Fluffy was the most famous Spokane-based spider since the spiders that starred in the 2001 North by Northwest Christian Teen Novel movie adaption the Hangman's Curse. Just this year, Fluffy had won the coveted "Best Giant Yard Spider" staff pick in the Inlander's Best Of issue. 

Halloween heists, of course, aren't unheard of. In 2014, criminals stole $200 in Halloween decorations from a North Spokane family.

Two years later, a house near NorthTown Mall had a $1,500 worth of decorations taken, including a mummy, a treasure chest, headstones and — that's right — an inflatable spider.

click to enlarge Fluffy the spider has been swiped, but the bones remain - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
Daniel Walters photo
Fluffy the spider has been swiped, but the bones remain

But this act of brazen thievery was particularly audacious.

Henthorne lives in a heavily trafficked area on a busy Browne's Addition street. The spider is heavy and unwieldy, with a slew of different parts to contend with. The caution tape surrounding his yard had been broken. They'd untied the spider from its webbed moorings, and taken not only the creature but the sandbags holding it down.

His dogs hadn't even barked.

Somehow the thieves had managed to make their way past Henthorne's dark army of skeleton sentinels, black ravens, bone hounds, stone guardians with glowing amber eyes, and the eternal vigilance of The Count, whose grim countenance keeps an unceasing watch from the window.

click to enlarge A clue! - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
Daniel Walters photo
A clue!
This was no one-man job, Henthorne has concluded. The thief had had help. He'd had a team. Most likely, they had a vehicle. Indeed, he's found a few clues, including a flurry of footprints, including a visible print — probably a men's shoe about size 12, he thinks — on one of the spiderwebs.

click to enlarge Tyler Henthrone, Halloween fan and spider-theft victim. - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
Daniel Walters photo
Tyler Henthrone, Halloween fan and spider-theft victim.

Henthorne, a retired air quality inspector, has been a huge fan of Halloween decorations for decades — when he was living back in California, he decorated an entire shopping mall for charity for five years. Knowing that Halloween would face COVID-related restrictions, he was particularly proud of his commitment to decorate this year, citing the 20-foot pandemic-proof candy chute — ("Spokane's largest!") that local tricker treaters will use on Oct. 31.

Yet, the theft of the spider has somewhat dampened his spirits and his confidence that the rest of his props will be safe.

"We're not going to set up our 15-foot Frankenstein puppet from the Wenatchee theater because of the situation," Henthorne says.

The Inlander, understanding that this was a difficult time for Henthorne, did not point out that actually, Frankenstein was the doctor, and his creation was "Frankenstein's monster."
Asked by the Inlander about the possibility of seeding his yard with a series of devilish snares, each more fiendish than the last, he notes that he has heard of some folks doing something like that.

"They posted online that they got tired of the campaign signs disappearing," Henthorne says. "So they put razor blades on it."

Henthorne says he has contacted the police, and encourages anyone with information to reach out to police as well. 

Until more information emerges about what happened, neighbors are left to speculate. Maybe the spider was stolen by a group of college kids or a rival Halloween decorator. Maybe Henthorne will start receiving ransom demands, one of Fluffy's limbs sent to him in a manila envelope for each of the next 8 days until he pays up.

Maybe the spider was vanquished by some brawny barbarian or stout-hearted halflings wielding a light for when all other lights go out. Maybe it was eaten by a 20-foot tall plastic praying mantis. Maybe it escaped, just skittered off to terrify some innocent curd-eating girl or to pursue its lifelong dream of porcine marketing.

Maybe a few weeks from now the Browne's Addition neighborhood will be besieged by a swarm of 6-inch plastic spider babies.

Maybe the spider carries a terrible curse, and the thieves will begin to wake up covered in thousands of tiny red bites or with an insatiable hunger for flies and other small insects, and the only cure is to return Fluffy to its rightful home.

But even if it isn't found by the holiday, he has a backup plan.

"I'll string the webs back up ... enough to make it look like it's there," Henthorne says," and I'll put up a sign that says 'invisible spider.'"

click to enlarge Spooky, scary - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
Daniel Walters photo
Spooky, scary

  • or

About The Author

Daniel Walters

A lifelong Spokane native, staff writer Daniel Walters is the Inlander's City Hall reporter. But he also reports on a wide swath of other topics, including business, education, real estate development, land use, and other stories throughout North Idaho and Spokane County.He's reported on deep flaws in the Washington...