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Woman who police say tried to enter maternity ward with fake baby arrested

Woman arrested on suspicion of trespassing after trying to enter maternity ward with fake babies
Woman who tried to enter hospital with lifelike babies says she was trying to sell the dolls

A woman who twice tried to enter a maternity ward of a Merced hospital while holding two lifelike baby dolls was arrested on suspicion of trespassing, police said.

Tonya Whitney was cited Friday afternoon after a detective obtained a warrant for her arrest, Merced Police Capt. Tom Trindad said.

Whitney told detectives her hospital visit was a "misunderstanding" and that she never intended to trespass or abduct any babies, Trindad said. Instead, she told investigators she had planned to sell her lifelike dolls to the nurses for use as training aides.

"Whether her intentions were honest or not, our goal is to protect the children," Trindad said.

Her husband was not arrested after police determined he did not attempt to enter the maternity ward, having only gone with her to the hospital, he said.

Police began investigating Whitney and her husband after Mercy Medical Center officials reported they tried to enter their maternity ward in Merced on Aug. 16 and then again on Aug. 18 while holding two dolls resembling real babies.

Both times, hospital officials turned Whitney away. During one of the visits, she was wearing medical scrubs.

Although the couple was turned away, a security guard thought something was suspicious and snapped photographs of them and their fake babies outside, hospital spokesman Robert McLaughlin said. 

Hospital staff immediately shared the couple's photographs with police and other area hospitals.

She told KFSN-TV that she always carries the dolls to advertise her business. Whitney, who had cervical cancer and can no longer have children, apparently creates the lifelike dolls for women who have lost a baby or can't have one on their own, the station reported.

Whitney said she didn't want anyone to feel threatened by her actions.

Anyone with details about the incident can call Det. Joseph Henderson at (209) 385-6847 or the Merced Police Department's Tipster Line at (209) 385-4725.

For breaking news in Los Angeles and throughout California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA. She can be reached at veronica.rocha@latimes.com.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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