MAPLEWOOD, New Jersey (WABC) -- For months distraught brides have been trying to find the woman who they say sold them wedding dresses and then seemed to disappear, leaving them with no dress and no dough, scrambling for replacements and trying to get answers.
Just after 7 On Your Side met everyone for interviews, the police picked her up.
"They worked very hard, they were able to identify the person and bring them in very quickly," said Maplewood Police Department Chief Albert Sally.
Sally credits his detectives for tracking down and arresting suspect Nidelka Nikkie Mayers just hours after 7 On Your Side followed three brides to the police station to file reports about their missing wedding gowns.
Sherice James, Lorraine Snodgrass and Deborah McNeese were strangers -- but they share the same wedding nightmare.
All three are heading to the altar soon. They all found and got fitted for their dream dresses at the now-abandoned Maplewood Bridal after leaving a hefty deposit or paying in full.
They paid between $775 and $2,600.
They claimed they can't reach the bridal boutique owner who once doted over every detail but suddenly closed her boutique and stopped answering calls.
Clients say they got a text from the owner saying she was closing up the Maplewood location and moving operations to the Art Factory venue in Paterson.
But the owner says it was short-lived.
"I had a line of distraught brides crying, some of them were crying how this girl took their money," Art Factory landlord David Garsia said.
A few weeks ago they say she emptied the space Garsia gave her as a showroom.
"A few days after that a U-Haul pulls up, Nikki piles her dresses and takes off," Garsia said.
A couple days ago, Deborah took the owner to small claims court, but she didn't show up.
7 On Your Side went to her last known address but she no one was home and she didn't answer emails or calls.
"For her to do something like that - it's just awful," Snodgrass said.
The brides filed police reports and provided receipts and photos. Shortly afterwards the owner was arrested.
"7 On Your Side was here pretty fast, just as fast as the investigation was, 7 On Your Side was here just as fast," Sally said.
Mayers was taken to Essex County jail and arraigned on Thursday afternoon.
"What we are dealing with here is what can only be categorized as a systematic theft by deception, involving the alleged sale of wedding gowns to unsuspecting victims," said James Mullen with the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.
A judge ordered the owner to stay away from her clients and she was released after pleading not guilty to all five counts.
"She deserves whatever she gets and I hope more people come forward," Snodgrass said.
"We were heard and we were helped and she's going to be held accountable," McNeese said.
"I'm happy but it still hurts that someone would do that to someone," James said.
The big takeaway:
The good news is most of the payments were made with a credit card. All brides have disputed and received credit while it is under investigation.
The big takeaway when ordering dresses is always:
-Pay with Credit Card
-Don't Pay in Full/Keep Receipts
-Document all Communication
-Report to Police
Police in Maplewood and Paterson are asking anyone who feel they've been defrauded to contact them.
Click here to contact Maplewood PD.
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