(SAN FRANCISCO) — A San Jose woman who spent four years in prison for the notorious “finger in the chili” hoax is being accused of making up another story.
Anna Ayala, 47, allegedly concocted a cover story for her son after he accidentally shot himself in the ankle. Ayala’s son, Guadalupe Reyes, 26, is a convicted felon and is not allowed to own firearms.
Reyes and his mother gave authorities detailed descriptions of two men who they said shot him, including their names.
The story was so believable, authorities identified and interrogated a potential suspect, ABC News station KGO-TV in San Francisco reported.
“They gave pretty specific information to the point we actually thought we had a suspect,” Sgt. Jason Dwyer told KGO. “We interviewed this person, we conducted various forensic testing as far as gunshot residue goes, so we treated it like the real deal.”
Reyes then recanted the story, while Ayala stuck by it, prompting their arrests.
The mother and son duo appeared in court on Friday for a preliminary hearing.
Both face a misdemeanor charge of filing a false police report.
Reyes faces an additional charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm, while Ayala is also being charged with being an accessory to a felony.
They are scheduled to be arraigned on March 1.
In 2005, Ayala generated national attention — as well as plenty of bad publicity for Wendy’s — when she said that she had bit into a severed fingertip found in a bowl of Wendy’s chili. Authorities suspected a hoax early in the investigation, partly because the finger wasn’t cooked. Forensic tests later showed that Ayala had never chomped on the finger, and investigators determined Ayala’s story was a fraud.
Further investigation found that the severed finger belonged to a co-worker of Ayala’s husband who had lost the tip in a workplace accident. According to court documents, her husband bought the fingertip for $100.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Jeremy Diamond, CNN
Patrick Gillespie, CNN
Dan Simon, Max Blau and Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN
Jeff Simon, CNN