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Hawkins woman heads north to retrieve valuable stolen 'reborn doll' heads

Jeff Bobo • Sep 2, 2016 at 11:46 AM

SURGOINSVILLE — Reborn dolls can sell for hundreds and thousands of dollars, but without their heads they’re hardly worth anything.

That’s why Madeline Rogers traveled from her home in Surgoinsville to Cicero, Ill. near Chicago this week, to retrieve three reborn doll heads valued at $1,100 that had been kidnapped — in a manner of speaking.

Reborn dolls are an especially realistic looking baby dolls that are highly sought after by collectors.

Earlier this year Rogers, who constructs reborn dolls as a hobby, sent three heads and a batch of Mohair/human hair valued at $200 to a woman from Cicero, Ill. who was advertising doll head hair rooting services online.

She paid $313 for the service, but months passed, and Rogers never received the doll heads back.

Rogers began looking into the Cicero woman’s business pages on Instagram and Facebook, and found other people who’d had the same experience.

On Monday Rogers filed theft complaint with the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office, but her intent from the beginning was to take matters into her own hands.

“Actually there were five other victims involved in this scam who I found through Instagram,” Rogers told the Times-News Thursday. “The (Cicero) girl had them and she wouldn’t send them back, and she wouldn’t complete the job, so I drove up there to get them. I made the police report as a precaution because if she didn’t have everything ready for me I was going to go to the police station there and show them my report, and get a police escort, and collect my stuff. But, when I got there she had everybody’s items ready, so I didn’t have to resort to that.”

Rogers arrived back home in Surgoinsville Wednesday with her three doll heads, as well as heads belonging to women from Canada, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Malaysia.

“We all met on Instagram, and started looking at each other’s messages on her page, asking for our dolls back,” Rogers said. “For one girl it had been over a year, so she couldn’t get a refund from PayPal, but at least I was able to get her doll.”

Rogers is waiting for postage money up front from the Malaysia woman, but the rest of the heads were mailed to their owners Thursday.

A lifelong lover of dolls, Rogers became a reborn doll enthusiast after buying one on e-Bay. She decided she wanted to find out if she could make her own.

“You get a kit, which is usually a head, arms, legs, and sometimes a torso,” Rogers said. “The kit can be anywhere from $35 to $200. You put layers of paint and bake each layer. It probably takes 30-40 hours to make a reborn doll, and probably another 30-40 hours to root the air on their head.”

She added, “By the time you get everything you need, you have to buy the bodies, you have to stuff the bodies, you weight them with fine glass beads to they feel like a real baby, and they look like a real baby.”

Rogers sells her finished dolls on e-Bay for fun, although she admits she’s not quite up to the skill level of those who demand thousands of dollars apiece.

The highest anyone has ever paid for one prepared by Rogers was $375.

The Cicero woman may have eluded criminal prosecution, but she didn’t elude a bit of social justice. Her Instagram and Facebook business pages were shut down due to complaints.

Even though reborn doll making is her idea of fun, Rogers was serious about not being swindled by the Cicero woman.

“I was trying to save myself some time by having her root the hair on three of my dolls, and it ended up costing me more than it was worth,” Rogers said. “Some of the dolls sell for thousands and thousands of dollars. I’m just starting out, and mine look pretty real, but they don’t look as real as some do.”

“But, a headless doll isn’t worth anything. That’s why the heads were so valuable. I can’t sell my dolls without their heads. But, I did get my heads back, even though they’re damaged. She got blue ink all over them somehow.”                                                    

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