A California woman who was jailed for 88 days after being accused of harassing, stalking and placing internet ads soliciting "rape fantasies," was instead framed by the woman she was accused of impersonating, the Orange County District Attorney's Office announced on Jan. 9.
Michelle Hadley, 30, was jailed from July through early October 2016 and faced a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted for the charges of felony stalking, attempted forcible rape, violating a protective order and assault, prosecutors said.
In turns out Angela Maria Diaz, 31, the supposed "victim" for many months until she was discovered, sent herself threatening emails that she claimed were from Hadley, filed false police reports, faked a crime scene and claimed she was the victim of a "rape fantasy" ad on Craigslist, said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.
Once it was discovered that Diaz framed Hadley, the 30-year-old was released in October and exonerated, stated an Orange County press release.
"This is actually one of the most unusual things I've seen in my career," said Deputy District Attorney Richard Zimmer, reports the Daily Mail. "The amount of planning, the effort, the sophistication, the amount of time that went into framing Ms. Hadley was incredible."
Diaz has now been charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment and making false police reports.
Diaz has been the wife of Deputy U.S. Marshal Ian Diaz, who was previously engaged to Hadley, since February 2016, Heavy.com reports. Ian and Hadley were engaged from August 2013 to August 2015.
The couple married after meeting through an online dating site in January 2016. In May, Diaz told her husband she was pregnant with twins, said officials. Police suspect she was never pregnant.
Diaz also forged doctor's notes, doctored an employer's check to pay her an additional $2,000, pretended to be a lawyer, impersonated two of Ian's ex-girlfriends over email and faked cervical cancer and a pregnancy in the past, the release stated.
She sent threatening emails she claimed were from Hadley to herself using virtual private networks and third-party proxy servers to conceal her online identity, said Rackauckas. She doctored the emails to have them appear as if they were sent from Hadley, Zimmer said.
The hundreds of reportedly forged emails featured threats to have Diaz raped and killed and also threatened the lives of her unborn children, even though she was not pregnant.
Diaz was given a temporary restraining order against Hadley for the supposed threats.
The forger also accused Hadley of creating "rape fantasy" ads on Craigslist that targeted her. Prosecutors say Diaz herself posted the ads, which drew a teenager responding to the ad to her home. She reportedly also staged a fake rape attack in the garage of her house.
"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," stated Rackauckas in the press release.
The police arrested Hadley, who was held from July 14 to Oct. 7 on $1 million bail.
Zimmer said: "The aha moment came after we spent a few months trying to unwind the third-party proxy servers. When we did that, we started getting IP addresses to Diaz's condo and her father's apartment. One came back to her cellphone."
Rackauckas said: "It should be clear in the media and in cyberspace. Ms. Hadley is an innocent victim of a diabolical scheme."
Hadley, who dubbed the framing "the most traumatic experience of my life," is looking to wrap up her MBA at Chapman University and is moving on with her life.
Rackauckas said: "As important as the filing of charges against Ms. Diaz, is the dismissal of the previous complaint and full exoneration of Michelle Hadley. This is a very detailed case. I wanted to make sure, however, that Ms. Hadley is cleared in every possible way -- in the courtroom and in the court of public opinion."