Father’s last gift to daughter was disappointing Reborn doll, family says

By Jason Stoogenke 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Nathen Johnson and Taylor Whisenhunt were engaged.

The couple ordered a Reborn baby doll for their four-year-old daughter, Bray, for Christmas.

The next day, investigators said Johnson got into an argument and was shot and killed.

Whisenhunt told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke she watched helplessly. “It’s indescribable really … it’s really hard,” she said.

“It’s the worst thing I’ve ever been through in my life,” Shannon Chambers, who is like a second mother to Whisenhunt, said. “It still really hasn’t set in.”

A few weeks after Johnson was killed, the doll arrived. Whisenhunt said it looked nothing like what they ordered. “I was really mad, but I was also like really sad at that time … I was just in a really bad spot,” she said.

She and Chambers were hoping that as Bray grows up, every time she looked at the doll, she would know it was the last thing her father bought her, his last Christmas gift to her.

“She struggles every day wanting him to come home,” Chamber said. “That doll … that doll just had so many different meanings behind it.”

According to the women, they asked the seller for a refund. The company initially offered them $10, then $20.

“I explained the whole story to them. You would think that they would have some kind of heart, but nothing,” Chambers told Stoogenke.

Stoogenke emailed the seller but had not heard back at the time of this news report.

Stoogenke started investigating complaints involving Reborn baby dolls shortly before Christmas. At the time, four customers had contacted him. Now, more than 120 people have contacted him from more than 30 states, plus Canada and England.

Whisenhunt, Chambers and Bray live in Missouri.

While logging complaints, Stoogenke noticed many customers used different websites to purchase the dolls from. Channel 9 found at least 10 websites that looked almost identical. Many of the websites had the same design, font and pictures of dolls. Some even had the same scam warnings posted with the same spelling mistakes on each site.

The website Johnson and Whisenhunt used is one of those sites.

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