PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A Rhode Island girl is teaming up with a local police department to solve a centuries-old mystery: Is Santa Claus real?
Earlier this month, 10-year-old Scarlett Doumato of Cumberland sent the police a partly-eaten cookie and the remains of a carrot she found at her home on Christmas morning.
"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 sample of DNA and see if Santa is real," Scarlett wrote in a letter to the police.
Cumberland Police Chief Matthew J. Benson, in a news release, said he told department investigators to send the evidence to the state department of health's forensic-sciences unit for analysis.
"This young lady obviously has a keen sense for truth and the investigative process and did an outstanding job packaging her evidence for submission," Benson said in the news release. "We will do our very best to provide answers for her."
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In a printed form sent to the state, the police identify the suspect as Santa Claus, with aliases "Kris Kringle," "Saint Nicholas," and "Saint Nick."
The suspect's crime? "Failure to finish snacks."
The form, which the police posted to Facebook, asks the state lab to examine the evidence "for traces of DNA" and compare the results with "profiles on record of the above-named suspect/aliases." It also asks that bite marks on the cookies be compared with any dental records on record for the suspect.
The Cumberland police are also asking the state to compare bite marks on the carrots with "all dental records on file for reindeer owned by suspect; specifically those owned by him and utilized on 12/24/2022 through 12/25/2022: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, or Rudolph."
Even before hearing from Scarlett, the police developed some evidence that might be linked to the case. Benson on Monday confirmed that the department had received reports of a person roaming Scarlett's neighborhood on the night in question. He was described as "an older male subject, white beard, red jacket," Benson said.
The police also uncovered "neighborhood surveillance photo of a single reindeer and believe we will uncover more on that front as well," Benson said.
Scarlett's mother, Alyson Doumoto, said she was surprised Christmas morning when Scarlett grabbed the leftover snacks and said, "I'm collecting these samples and I'm going to send them to the police for DNA testing."
Scarlett, who is in the fourth grade, "loves science" and enjoys watching television shows about investigations, her mother said. Scarlett and her family learned a first-hand lesson about DNA investigations when they had DNA testing done on their rescue dogs, Jett and Onyx.
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So Scarlett, her mother, father, Matthew, and brother, Gianni, 13, on Monday morning were anxiously awaiting the results of another DNA test.
The state health department put out a tweet later Monday, saying it had applied the "most current and technologically advanced methods to solving the case," but "weren't quite able to definitively confirm or refute the presence of Santa at your home."
Still, the police aren't ready to let the case go as cold as a December sleigh ride. They posted a mysterious photograph to Facebook Monday showing a person in a fancy red suit, but their face was not visible.
"We are still actively investigating and pursuing additional leads," the post says. "A person of interest responded to HQ today. Additional information will be released soon."
Meanwhile, Alyson Doumoto says she's grateful to the Cumberland police "for going out of their way and spreading some joy."
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Is Santa real? Rhode Island girl sends cookie, carrot for DNA test