SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. (AP/ABC News) - They sent a "creepy" feeling through several Southern California families, but authorities said Friday that the woman who left porcelain dolls on doorsteps didn't mean any harm.
The Orange County Sheriff's Department said the woman had anonymously left the dolls wearing nightgowns and lace dresses at as many as eight homes in a San Clemente neighborhood this week.
The families were worried because they felt each doll resembled a young girl who lived in the house, setting off an investigation and call for public help in finding who had placed them.
But late Thursday, the sheriff's department found the woman responsible and determined the intent had been goodwill - the dolls were left as a "kind gesture."
Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock said the dolls and their apparent resemblance to real girls left families feeling "creepy" and noted that that the woman, who knew the girls from church, is now mortified by all the media attention.
"She was embarrassed and I think a little scared that something she intended to be a good-will gesture turned into something that was terrifying the community for a short time," Hallock said.
The woman - who police haven't named - told them that she was only trying to give away toys her own family had outgrown and had tried to match the girls in the neighborhood with dolls that looked like them.
"She tried to pick dolls that resembled girls who lived there," Hallock said. "In her mind, her motivation was purely kindness. It was meant as a good-will gesture. In retrospect, I think she wishes she would have left a note."
The investigation is over since police have confirmed the woman had no bad intentions, but rather had simply been cleaning out a closet and trying to get rid of the toys in a nice way.