No criminal charges in phony kidnapping

GLENDALE — A young woman who faked being kidnapped to avoid telling her parents she had dropped out of college could be sued for the costs of the extensive search, but she won't face criminal charges, police said Friday.

The city attorney will decide whether to file a civil claim against Nancy Salas for overtime, helicopter fuel and other expenses, Sgt. Tom Lorenz said Friday, a day after she turned up in Merced and claimed she had been kidnapped at gunpoint.

The city attorney's office might determine that it's not cost-effective to seek repayment of the more than $10,000, he said.

Merced police didn't take a report and called Glendale investigators, so they won't charge Salas with filing a false police report, said Merced police Lt. Andre Matthews.

Salas, 22, told friends and family that she was about to graduate from UCLA with a degree in sociology to prepare for a career in public health, but detectives discovered she hadn't been enrolled since September 2008.

Salas stuck to her story about being kidnapped until she returned to Glendale and police told her the game was up. Her parents, everyone, knew the truth.

"But up until that point, she had no idea the extent of the search that was going on, nor did she have any idea that our investigators had unraveled the facade that she kept up for two years," Lorenz said.

Salas told police she used a baby-sitting job in Westwood as cover, hung out on campus and complained about midterms on her blog, never letting on that she ran into academic and financial problems at school.

Lorenz said Salas told detectives she dropped out after her scholarship money ran out and her grades weren't good enough to earn another.

She intended to get her act together and return in a semester, but it never happened and she never told her parents. Instead, she told her friends she had applied to graduate school and continued to show up in a campus lab to talk to her professors.

Parents Henry and Joanna Salas were "crushed" when detectives told them their daughter wasn't studying at UCLA, Lorenz said. Salas' father recently was laid off from his job at a trucking company and her mother cleans houses for a living.

Her friends refused to believe police.

"They didn't budge right up until the point that she told us why she did what she did," he said.