Police in the San Joaquin Valley, California, arrested a woman on trespassing charges after they say she was trying to access a hospital maternity ward.
Merced police said 41-year-old Tonya Whitney and her husband carried dolls that looked like fake babies into Mercy Medical Center on two occasions in the past week. Whitney wore a nurses outfit, carried an old visitor’s pass and a fake baby in a carrier, authorities said. She is facing misdemeanor trespassing charges.
Whitney was turned away before she could get into the maternity ward, according to police, who said they found many life-like dolls inside the woman’s Merced apartment. Whitney said the whole thing is a misunderstanding. She said she sells the dolls and was only at the hospital to make a sales pitch.
Police said Whitney and her husband tried accessing the maternity ward at Mercy Medical twice, the first time on Saturday after visiting the emergency department. "They then returned Monday and they once again attempted,” Merced Police Capt. Tom Trinidad said. “Of course this prompted an immediate response from the hospital because they wanted to secure the safety of the children."
"If you look at it, could be suspicious,” Capt. Trinidad said. “Of course, the assumption could be made that she was there for the purpose of switching out a fake life-like baby with a real baby."
Authorities said hospital security staff noticed the couple's odd behavior, treating the dolls as if they were real, cuddling them and changing diapers.
Police said Whitney has at least one child. Her husband was not arrested.
Attempts to reach Mercy Medical staff for comment were not immediately successful.
NBC's Fresno affiliate KSEE-TV contributed to this report.