Ariel this isn’t. The year’s most viral mermaid didn’t appear in a Disney film or make her debut on Siren. Rather, a Christmas-gifted mermaid doll broke the internet in the final days of the year not because of her appearance, but because of what was allegedly inside her head: cocaine.
New Jersey mother Elizabeth Faidley shared a story on Facebook claiming that back in 2015 she unsuspectingly bought a $500 mermaid doll on Etsy for her daughter, only to find that its price wasn’t as exorbitant as it seemed ... simply because the doll wasn’t all she was apparently buying:
Sorry, UglyDolls, but there’s no beating that thing. The video of Faidley’s daughter opening the mermaid (and her disgusted reaction) has, as of this posting, over 1.87 million views. “It’s not what I expected,” the little girl is said to say after recoiling from the creature.
According to TODAY, Faidley had a conversation with her daughter after the camera stopped rolling on the embedded video that was ironically on-the-nose. “When I cut the camera off, I sat her down and she stared at the doll and said, 'I wanted a pretty one,'" Faidley said. "And I said, 'It's not as much what's on the outside as what's on the inside.’”
And apparently, what was inside, Faidley says, was two ounces of cocaine. Faidley claims that after sending the upsetting doll to a Secaucus “doll and teddy bear hospital,” she was contacted by a detective from the Secaucus Police Department. When removing the doll’s head, the repairers allegedly found the drug hidden away inside and called the cops.
Faidley explained the situation — convincing the officer that the drugs weren’t hers (why would she stuff them inside her own daughter’s Christmas present?) — and gave over her Etsy details. It seems the doll was embroiled in much deeper, darker waters than previously anticipated. According to Faidley's Facebook post, not only was this Etsy site supposedly doling out drugs, it was a multi-state matter. In fact, it might have been even bigger. When she was contacted again by police, Faidley wrote that they told her that “the NJ DEA and Alabama DEA are now working together to plan a ‘sting’ on the doll maker in Alabama.” It's unclear where this sting actually occurred, or whether it ever took place.
Faidley finished her tale — more Brothers Grimm than Hans Christian Andersen — with another disappointment: The doll could never come back to her daughter. ”She is going to be locked away in evidence awaiting an international drug trial,” she recalled being told by police. Alabama, however, is not a different country than New Jersey. Perhaps mermaids were smuggling controlled substances across the seven seas, spreading an unexpected (and illegal) kind of holiday cheer.
As to where the investigation went from there, Faidley tells SYFY WIRE that the detective working the case kept things under wraps: "The detective told me it was 'need to know.'"
And as for her daughter? "She didn’t get a replacement and forever hated dolls," Faidley explains to us. She adds that her daughter even "put all of her American Girl dolls in the basement." That's one Christmas gift that's had a lasting impact.