When Cumberland Police Chief Matt Benson arrived at his office just after the holidays, a suspicious package was waiting for him. There were scraps of food in there.
“I opened it and there were two zippered bags, with a half-eaten cookie and two half-eaten baby carrots,” Benson tells Yahoo Life, describing the contents as evidence from a young Rhode Island resident who claims he may have evidence for that Santa Claus is real.
Alongside the items: a handwritten note on yellow lined paper from its sender, 10-year-old aspiring detective Scarlett Doumato.
“Dear Cumberland Police Department,” it read. “I took a sample from a cookie and carrots that I left for Santa and the reindeer on Christmas Eve and I was wondering if you could take a DNA sample and see if Santa is real?”
Within minutes, the package left an indelible mark on the department.
“We’re human too, and that put a smile on our faces,” Benson says of himself and his colleagues. “You could see the energy and the kind of light and excitement they emanated just by reading it. So we immediately put our heads together and decided we need to do something about it, we need to really invest in it and we’re doing something very special for them.”
Shortly after receiving the package, Benson launched a full investigation and released a statement to the media about the situation (with Doumato’s name redacted) mentioning Santa’s other aliases, “Kris Kringle” and “Saint Nicholas.”
In the press release, CPD confirmed they had sent evidence — including surveillance footage of a nearby reindeer that night extracted by a nearby camera — to the State Forensic Unit for further consideration.
But unbeknownst to Benson, Doumato was involved in the case long before the police got involved.
“Two years ago my dad tried to catch Santa Claus,” Doumato tells Yahoo Life. “He put out his phone, but when we looked at it the next morning, it looked almost photoshopped. I became suspicious.”
Doumato attributes her curiosity to the long hours she spends with her father watching detective shows (her favorite is monk). Those instincts were put to the test on the morning of December 25, 2022, when she discovered that the baby carrots and cookies she’d left for Santa and his nine reindeer the night before were half eaten. By whom? She wondered. And can their DNA be traced?
“If Santa Claus is not really, who puts the presents under the tree then?” she asks.
All good questions, argues Benson, who, like Doumato, dreamed of becoming a detective from a young age.
“She has me in spades,” he says. “She’s far more advanced than I ever was at that age. I mean, this was something I’ve always wanted to do, but she took it to another level. It’s something she wants to do, and she actually works at her craft and really invests in it personally.”
The industry needs more people like Doumato, says Benson.
“This girl has a passion for truth and a passion for answers at such a young age,” he says. “I would be doing her and her family a disservice if I didn’t, from my small distance to the situation, if I didn’t support that, if I didn’t encourage that and if I or my staff didn’t keep up and haven’t either invested in it.”
The investigation, which has since gone viral, has turned into a family affair. Alyson Doumato, Scarlett’s mother, says she supports her daughter’s dream of becoming a detective.
“Let kids be who they are,” she tells Yahoo Life. “Every child has a personality and we need to look at their strengths and give them the things they need to keep growing rather than trying to change them.”
The results are inconclusive
As soon as the public became aware of the investigation, Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee confirmed this that the state health department “rushed” to submit the results, which strangely turned out to be inconclusive.
“Unfortunately, there were no complete matches,” the health department confirmed in a tweet. Interestingly, they noted, “There was a partial match with a 1947 case centered on 34th Street in New York City.”
“Curiously,” the news continued, “scientists found presence DNA that closely matches Rangier tarandus, better known as reindeer,” and concluded that they “cannot definitively confirm or refute Santa’s presence.” but “agree that something magical could be at play.”
The message from the health department, which Benson said was not coordinated in cooperation with the Cumberland Police Department, did not go down well with investigators.
“Their finding was that it wasn’t conclusive,” says Benson. “That’s not good enough for me.”
Benson tells Yahoo Life that officers brought in a person of interest for questioning Monday who appears to match the suspect: “Elderly man, red suit, red hat and white beard.”
“We tracked this person down. He was at our station yesterday and we had some questions for him,” he says, adding that the suspect acted in “full cooperation” with the police.
“We have other evidence that we will be releasing from other neighbors and other footage in the area,” adds Benson. “We have many different perspectives. We’re not happy with an inconclusive state outcome, so we’ll move on.”
Doumato doesn’t give up either. In fact, she’s now trying to solve another big mystery, telling Yahoo Life with complete confidence, “Me and my friends are trying to figure out what happened to Amelia Earhart.”
This investigation is ongoing…
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https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/girl-police-dna-sample-santa-claus-investigation-ongoing-040933424.html A 10-year-old girl sends the police a DNA sample to determine if Santa Claus is real