A young girl from the town of Cumberland, Rhode Island, sent a letter to her local police department earlier this month requesting DNA testing on food allegedly eaten by Santa Clause. She wrote, “Dear Cumberland Police Department, 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?”
Keep reading to find out how the officials responded and what they uncovered!
A Detective in the Making
Chief Matthew J. Benson alerted the public via Facebook on January 20 that the department had started an investigation into the matter. The “young investigator,” 10-year-old Scarlett Doumato, included a partially eaten Oreo cookie and carrot remnants from the morning of December 25, 2022, and she asked for an analysis to see if the items contained any DNA from St. Nick and/or his reindeer, according to the Washington Post. The Cumberland Investigative Division sent the half-eaten items to the state’s Department of Health Forensic Sciences Unit.
“This young lady obviously has a keen sense for truth and the investigative process and did a tremendous job packaging her evidence for submission. We will do our very best to provide answers for her,” Benson said in the press release.
Her mother, Alyson Doumato, explained, “Scarlett has never been one to take anyone’s word for anything. She just doesn’t. She’s going to go through her own process and make her own conclusions about pretty much everything. That’s just her personality.”
Mystery Man Prompts Questions
It isn’t the first time Scarlet has doubted Santa’s authenticity. She used her father’s cell phone a couple of years ago in an attempt to catch St. Nick in the act, but she wasn’t convinced the footage was entirely real and wondered if it had been photoshopped. That’s what led her to ask police to check the food for DNA evidence. She was too shy to drop it off at the station herself, so she sent it in the mail.
While waiting for the results, Benson kept Scarlet informed of the case’s progress. He revealed that witnesses had seen a large man with a white beard and red jacket near her home on Christmas Eve. There were plans to interview and fingerprint him when he was able to return to the area. Benson wrote in a letter to Scarlet, “Apparently, he leads a very large team of workers who build toys and also maintains a small farm with about 9 animals that need constant care and attention as they are constantly playing games.”
Test Results Revealed
Items that are examined for traces of DNA are compared to profiles on record to determine if there is a match. Unfortunately, the Rhode Island Department of Health was unable to able “to definitively confirm or refute the presence of Santa.” However, the department did have some good news.
It wrote in a tweet, “Interestingly, there was a partial match to a 1947 case centered around 34th Street in New York City.” This is in reference to the holiday film Miracle on 34th Street, in which a little girl and an attorney attempt to prove that a man claiming to be Kris Kringle is, in fact, Santa Clause. The health department added that it would require additional DNA samples “from other known Santa encounters to make a definitive match.”
While the results are not conclusive, there is a bit of good news for the young Rhode Island amateur investigator. While analyzing the carrots, the Department of Health found “DNA matching closely with Rangifer tarandus, more commonly known as reindeer.”
The Search Continues…
What does Scarlet make of the results? Prior to asking for the DNA investigation, she thought her parents may have eaten the cookies and carrots. While she’s a little frustrated that the answers weren’t conclusive, she’s onboard with the theory that Santa did, in fact, stop at her home for a snack during his busiest time of the year.
However, she’s not complacent. Next Christmas, she wants to collect DNA samples from her parents and compare them with the samples from a glass of milk she leaves for Kris Kringle. She also plans on setting up a video camera in a different spot than she did in the past, to see if she can get some better evidence on film.
By Noelle Talmon, contributor for Ripleys.com