State

Charges still possible in fake kidnap

A missing Southern California woman found in Merced last week isn't off the hook for lying to police about being abducted.

Merced police Lt. Andre Matthews said his department will forward Nancy Salas' police report this week to the Merced County district attorney's office to determine if she'll be charged with filing a false police report.

Police said Salas told investigators she'd been kidnapped from Southern California and sexually assaulted — claims she later recanted to Glendale police.

Although Merced police said Friday that Salas wouldn't face criminal charges, on Tuesday investigators said they had a change of heart after taking a second look at her false claims to detectives and her 911 phone call.

If Salas is prosecuted for filing a fake police report, Matthews said it's likely she'd face a misdemeanor charge, with a maximum of one year in jail.

Merced police assisted Salas and brought her back to the department after she called 911. She remained at the department until Glendale police arrived, Matthews said.

Salas vanished May 12 after telling family members she was going for a run in Chevy Chase Canyon in Glendale. The next day about 11 a.m., she walked into Carpet One at 312 W. Main St. in Merced.

Witnesses said she was in tears and claimed to have been kidnapped by a man with a knife. Salas used the store's phone to call 911, making the fake claims.

After she returned home to Glendale, however, Salas told detectives she made up the story because of pressure from family and friends, who believed she was a student at UCLA. The university's records showed Salas hadn't been enrolled at the school since fall 2008.

Glendale police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said the Los Angeles district attorney's office has decided not to pursue criminal charges against Salas because the missing persons report was filed by her family, not by her.

"We don't want any family members, if they are in the same shoes, to hesitate for a moment, when someone could actually be in need of dire police assistance," Lorenz said.

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