An Ontario woman was accused by yours truly last July of being "the craziest of crazy ex-girlfriends."
Then, in October, Michelle Suzanne Hadley was bestowed a spot on OC Weekly's Halloweeny list of Orange County's 31 Scariest People.
Why? Because the 30-year-old had been accused by Orange County's top cops of sending emails threatening her ex-lover's wife and unborn twins as well as posing as the mom-to-be in craigslist exchanges aimed at having violent rape fantasies fulfilled even if the "victim" resisted the attacks.
However, on Monday, Orange County law enforcement essentially made it clear that Hadley was not the crazy one nor did she did not deserve the ridicule that was heaped on her.
Angela Maria Diaz did.
For this now is not the case of a woman who posed as her ex-lover's wife but a wife who posed as her husband's ex-lover posing as his wife (a.k.a. herself)—allegedly, of course.
Diaz is now the soon-to-be ex-wife of the man who had been Hadley's fiancé—and now authorities say the 31-year-old Phoenix, Arizona, resident faked her pregnancy as well.
Yup, this one's a doozy, or as Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas put it at a press conference Monday morning, "It is often said that true life is stranger than fiction. The facts of this case make that statement spot on."
Da DA continued: "When a person who has committed a crime gets arrested and charged, that's a bad day! But when someone who is innocent gets arrested and charged with some crime, that's not just a bad day-it's a nightmare! This is the tale of a woman who faced such a nightmare, but with the help of her attorney and law enforcement, who continued to seek the truth, she will be able to be exonerated."
Let's see if we can sensibly roll out the true events for you—or at least truthful as based on the allegations Rackauckas rolled out Monday.
- Hadley had been in a serious relationship with the man, identified by authorities as "John Doe" because he was a victim in all this, after they met online in August 2013. Following what Rackauckas described as "a whirlwind romance," the couple bought an Anaheim condominium. But they parted ways in August 2015 and Hadley moved out.
- In September 2015, Hadley and John Doe argued over email and text messages about the status of their relationship and financial issues surrounding their condo. "Some of Ms. Hadley's emails contained accusations toward Doe, descriptions of events in their relationship and included language with religious overtones," says Rackauckas, who added Hadley and Doe ended contact with each other that same fall season. (This is key because details mentioned in the real emails between Hadley and her former boyfriend were repeated in phony emails that would follow, according to the DA.)
- In January 2016, John Doe met Angela Diaz on the same dating website where he met Hadley. They married at the end of February 2016 and Diaz moved into the condo. In mid-May 2016, Diaz claimed she was pregnant with twins.
- On June 1, 2016, Diaz went to the Anaheim Police Department and falsely reported harassing messages, claiming they were from Hadley. Diaz, who is now accused of having actually sent herself the emails to make it appear Hadley wrote and sent them, obtained a restraining order against Hadley by signing under penalty of perjury that Hadley had threatened her.
- On many occasions from that day through July 13, 2016, Diaz made false reports to get Anaheim cops to come to the home she shared with John Doe with claims that Hadley threatened the lives of her and her unborn children. "Diaz is accused of adding links to graphic images and photographs of dead human beings, decapitated bodies and aborted fetuses," says Rackauckas, whose investigation found the wife routed threatening emails to herself through about eight different accounts using Virtual Private Networks and third-party proxy servers to avoid detection of her Internet Protocol address by law enforcement.
- In June 2016, Diaz posed as Hadley to respond to online advertisements from men who wanted to help women fulfill "rape fantasies," sent photos of herself (Diaz) to those who replied and informed them that she wanted to have forcible sexual intercourse even if she screamed or resisted. After Diaz told Anaheim police that Hadley was stalking her and falsely claiming she was involved in these online ads, at least two men who came to Diaz's residence to participate in rape fantasies were intercepted by law enforcement.
- On June 24, 2016, Diaz called 9-1-1 to report that a man entered her garage and attempted to rape her before she was able to call for help and chase the man away, bolstering the credibility of her rape fantasy claims. "She is accused of crying and meeting the police with her shirt ripped and with visible redness to her neck and breast area," Rackauckas says.
- Later that same day, Hadley was arrested by Anaheim police and after making her $100,000 bail she was released the next morning. "It should be noted that pursuant to Marsy's Law, Diaz was notified by law enforcement when Ms. Hadley was taken into custody and when she bailed out," Rackauckas says. "Diaz is accused of claiming that while Ms. Hadley was in custody, the threatening emails and rape fantasy solicitations stopped and that after Ms. Hadley bailed out, the threats and solicitations began again almost immediately. Diaz is accused of sending emails containing language that made them appear to have been written by Ms. Hadley."
-From June 25 to July 13, 2016, Diaz's reporting to Anaheim cops continued. She claimed that in some emails, Hadley requested Diaz contact her. "These email requests included Ms. Hadley's parents' phone number as well as an email address that Ms. Hadley had told police was, in fact, her email address, including emails that appeared to have originated from Ms. Hadley's verified email address," Rackauckas says.
- On July 13, 2016, Diaz called 9-1-1 and officers arrived at the condo to find a 17-year-old boy outside who admitted to responding to the rape fantasy solicitation, believing the advertisement was real.
- On July 14, 2016, Hadley was re-arrested. "Due to the seriousness of the threats, the alleged attack on Diaz in her garage, the escalation in both the frequency and nature of the threats, and yet another man arriving at Diaz's residence to engage in a rape fantasy encounter, law enforcement believed a serious threat to public safety existed," Rackauckas says. "Based on the fact that the available evidence pointed only to Ms. Hadley, an arrest warrant was issued and charges were filed against her."
- That same day, Hadley was charged in Orange County Superior Court with felony stalking with a restraining order, stalking, criminal threats, attempted rape, assault with the intent to commit rape during a residential burglary, violating a protective order, and a crime-bail-crime enhancement. Held on $1 million bail, she faced a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.
Rackauckas now says it would have been impossible for Hadley to send the last batch of emails, something that was discovered as prosecutors and Anaheim police, pressed by the defendant's attorney Michael Guisti, continued investigating the true source of the emails.
That probe resulted in Hadley being released from custody on Oct. 7, 2016, and all the charges against her were scheduled to be dismissed on Monday.
"I wanted to make sure ... that Ms. Hadley is cleared in every possible way—in the courtroom and in the court of public opinion," Rackauckas said. "It should be clear in the media and in cyberspace. Ms. Hadley is an innocent victim of a diabolical scheme."
Indeed, once Hadley was cleared, the focus of the criminal investigation pivoted to Diaz.
Once police investigators and our office suspected that Ms. Hadley may not be involved in these crimes, we began working closely with Ms. Hadley and her defense attorney, Mr. Michael Guisti, who provided critical documentary evidence," said Rackauckas, who added data from Diaz's computers and cell phone helped make the case against her.
"During the course of the frame-up investigation, we uncovered other fraud activity by Diaz, including check forgery and other deceptions including faking cervical cancer, pretending to be an attorney, forging doctor's notes, faking a pregnancy, and impersonating another one of John Doe's ex-girlfriends over email," Rackauckas said.
It was discovered that on Sept. 6, 2016, Diaz forged a paycheck from the County of Orange and tried to cash it at a bank, Rackauckas says. Investigation by the Garden Grove Police Department revealed that on April 22, 2016, Diaz allegedly altered a paycheck from her employer to add $2,000 to the total and deposited the check through an ATM.
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Diaz was arrested on Friday by the Phoenix Police Department, and she now awaits extradition from Arizona. When she returns to Orange County for a court date to be determined, she will be facing two felony counts of kidnapping, two felony counts of false imprisonment by menace, fraud, or deceit, one felony count of perjury, one felony count of grand theft, two felony counts of forgery, two felony counts of possession of a forged check over $950, one misdemeanor count of falsely reporting a crime to a police agency, and 21 misdemeanor counts of falsely reporting a crime to a peace officer.
A conviction could send Diaz to state prison for 12 years and eight months—plus 11 years in county jail.
"I want to give kudos to APD, in particular Detective Michael Cunha, who worked tirelessly and devoted hundreds of hours to uncovering the truth," Rackauckas told the gathered media. "I would also like to thank OCDA's Investigative Bureau, and our prosecutors for continuing to investigate the case after Ms. Hadley was taken into custody on July 14 and spent approximately three months in jail. It took months of painstaking work to remove the disguise from some of the IP addresses and reveal the real source of these emails."
The false emails originated from the Anaheim condo and the home of Diaz's father in Arizona, according to the DA. "The evidence we currently have does not show involvement by John Doe," Rackauckas added.