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A 10-year-old girl has sent the police a DNA sample to determine if Santa Claus is real. A full-scale investigation is underway.

Scarlett Doumato’s dream of being a detective came true when the Cumberland Police Department opened her case to determine the validity of Santa Claus. (Credit: WJAR)

When Cumberland Police Chief Matt Benson arrived at his office shortly after the holidays, a suspicious package was waiting for him. Inside were leftover food.

“I opened it and there were two ziplock bags, with a half-eaten cookie and two half-eaten baby carrots,” Benson told Yahoo Life, describing the contents as evidence of a young Rhode Islander. claiming that he could potentially have proof that Santa Claus is real.

Next to the objects: a handwritten note on yellow lined paper from its sender, Scarlett Doumato, a 10-year-old budding detective.

“Dear Cumberland Police Department,” it said. “I took a sample of a cookie and carrots that I left for Santa and the reindeer on Christmas Eve and was wondering if you could take a DNA sample and see if Santa is real ?”

Within minutes, the package made an indelible impression on the department.

“We’re human too, and that made us smile,” Benson says of himself and his fellow officers. “You could see the energy and the kind of light and excitement that came out of it just by reading it. So we immediately thought about it and decided we need to do something about it, we really need to invest in it and do make it really special for her.”

Shortly after receiving the package, Benson launched a full-scale investigation and issued a statement to the media about the situation (with Doumato’s name redacted), noting Santa’s other aliases, “Kris Kringle” and ” Saint Nicholas”.

In the press release, the CPD confirmed that they had sent evidence – including surveillance footage of a reindeer in the vicinity that night taken from a nearby camera – to the forensic unit of the State for further testing.

But, unbeknownst to Benson, Doumato was on the case long before the police got involved.

“Two years ago my dad tried to catch Santa Claus,” Doumato told Yahoo Life. “He turned off his phone, but when we looked at it the next morning, it almost looked photoshopped. I had my suspicions.”

Doumato attributes her curiosity to the long hours she spends with her father watching crime shows (her favorite is Monk). Those instincts were put to the test on the morning of December 25, 2022, when she discovered that the carrots and cookies she had left for Santa Claus and his nine reindeer the night before were half eaten. By who? she wondered. And can we trace their DNA?

“If Santa Claus is not real, so who puts the gifts under the tree?” she asks.

All the right questions, argues Benson, who, like Doumato, dreamed of being a detective from an early age.

“She has me to spare,” he says. “She’s way more advanced than I ever was at that age. I mean, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but she took it to another level. It’s something something she wants to do, and she’s currently working on her craft and really investing in it personally.”

The industry needs more people like Doumato, Benson says.

“This girl has a passion for truth and a passion for answers, and at such a young age,” he says. “I would be doing him and his family a disservice if I didn’t, given my small distance from the situation, if I didn’t support this, if I didn’t favor this and if I or my staff haven’t fallen behind and invested in it too.”

The investigation, which has since gone viral, has become a family affair. Alyson Doumato, Scarlett’s mother, says she supports her daughter’s dreams of becoming a detective.

“Let the 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 that the state health department was “rushing” to deliver the results, which, oddly enough, turned out to be inconclusive.

“Unfortunately there were no full matches,” the health department confirmed in a tweet. Interestingly, they noted, “there was a partial match to a 1947 case centered around 34th Street in New York.”

“Intriguingly,” the post continues, scientists “found presence DNA closely matching Rangier tarandus, more commonly known as reindeer,” concluding that while they “are unable to definitively confirm or refute the presence of the Santa,” they “agree that something magical may be at play.

The message from the health department, which Benson said was not coordinated with the Cumberland Police Department, did not sit well with investigators.

“Their determination was that it was inconclusive,” Benson said. “It’s not good enough for me.”

Benson told Yahoo Life that on Monday, officers brought in a person of interest for questioning who appears to match the suspect: “Older male, red suit, red hat and white beard.”

“We found this individual. He was in our police station yesterday and we had questions for him,” he said, adding that the suspect was acting in “full cooperation” with the police.

“We have further evidence that we will be posting other neighbors and other images in the area,” Benson adds. “We had a lot of different angles. We’re not happy with an inconclusive finding from the state, so we’ll move on.”

Doumato is not giving up either. In fact, she’s now trying to solve another big mystery, confidently telling Yahoo Life, “My friends and I are trying to figure out what happened to Amelia Earhart.”

This investigation is ongoing…

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