Found! Police Unmask Unlikely Culprit Who Left Dolls Outside Family's Homes
07/25/2014 AT 10:05 AM EDT
Porcelain dolls left outside homes in San Clemente, California, over the past two weeks were not the work of a weird stranger but rather an elderly women who attended the families' church and was trying to be thoughtful.
The woman decided to clean out her own doll collection and left the elaborately dressed porcelain dolls on the porches of several area homes as a surprise gift for neighborhood girls she thought might enjoy them, Orange County Sheriff's Department Lt. Jeff Hallock told NBC Los Angeles.
"Investigators have concluded that her motivation was out of goodwill and that she intended it as a kind gesture," Hallock added in a news release reported by TV station KTLA. "The woman attended church with many of the impacted families."
Residents of the Talega neighborhood contacted police earlier this week after as many as 11 dolls were left at their homes starting on July 16. Some mothers noted the odd resemblance that the dolls had to their daughters, saying at the time the coincidence made them feel uneasy. The woman who gifted them did not include a note explaining her generosity, leaving many to worry before police uncovered the details.
"It's really creepy and disturbing. As a mom with a daughter, it freaks me out," one resident told NBC earlier this week. "Hopefully it's a prank and not someone with very bad motives."