Creepy Dolls Woman 'Embarrassed' By Furore
The toys, which were left on at least eight doorsteps in San Clemente, resembled the girls who lived there - all of whom were around 10 years old.
Spooked families in the Talega neighbourhood contacted police, noting that each doll resembled a young girl who lived in the house.
But horror movie scenarios were ruled out when the dolls turned out to be gifts from a lady who attends a local church.
The woman said she was only trying to give away old family toys - and had even tried to match the dolls to the children.
Orange County Sheriff's Department Lieutenant Jeff Hallock told ABC News: "She was embarrassed and I think a little scared that something she intended to be a goodwill gesture turned into something that was terrifying the community for a short time.
"She tried to pick dolls that resembled girls who lived there. In her mind, her motivation was purely kindness.
"In retrospect, I think she wishes she would have left a note."
Residents were initially warned to be on alert and officers began poring over links between the families, but despite the children attending the same school they could not find a meaningful connection.
Detectives also tried to find out if the dolls were bought or handmade - perhaps by someone with potentially sinister motives.
One mother told reporters earlier in the week: "We're very unsettled and obviously taking this very seriously as it concerns our daughters and little girls."