Police search home of Las Vegas woman who found finger in her chili at Wendy's
Friday, April 8, 2005
Las Vegas police searched the home of Anna Ayala on Wednesday, looking for evidence related to her claim that she found a finger in her chili at a San Jose, California Wendy's outlet. A dozen officers conducted the search at Ayala's home at Maryland Parkway and Serene Street at about 4 p.m. local time (23:00 UTC), according to witnesses at the scene.
"They put guns to us and handcuffed us and threw us to the ground in front of all my neighbors," Ayala told the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday evening. "They treated us like trash, like terrorists. It's the worst nightmare," Ayala said.
"I've been dragged through the mud. We've been treated like animals. I've been through too much," Ayala told the San Jose Mercury News on Thursday evening.
Although police have not named Ayala as a suspect in the case, San Francisco ABC 7 is reporting that the search warrant may be related to Ayala's dead aunt. Ayala disputed the ABC 7 report.
"I would like to know who she is and why I wasn't invited to her funeral," Ayala told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Ayala stated that she does not have a dead aunt. She also denied reports that a cooler had been seized from her home during the search. Ayala also said that her teenage daughter, Genesis Reyes, had torn shoulder ligaments as a result of the search. The Las Vegas Review-Journal ran a photo of Reyes wearing a sling in their Friday edition.
However, Ken Bono, a friend of the Ayala family, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that police had taken a cooler during the search.
"Basically they kicked the door open. They pulled everything out of the closet," her roommate told a Las Vegas news crew, in a report aired on NBC11 News.
In San Jose, police spokeswoman Gina Tepoorten confirmed to reporters that investigators had served the warrant in cooperation with Las Vegas police on Wednesday, but she refused to reveal specific details about the warrant.
"We're going to conduct a thorough investigation into this case and our investigators are talking to everybody involved, and that includes customers at Wendy's at the time as well as the finder of the finger," Tepoorten said.
Wendy's is offering a US$50,000 reward for information leading to the source of the finger.
"It's very important to our company to find out the truth in this incident," Tom Mueller, Wendy's president and chief operating officer told Associated Press. "We believe someone knows exactly what happened, and hopefully the reward will encourage this person to come forward."
Wendy's claims that their internal investigation shows that the finger did not end up in Ayala's chili through any of the ingredients in their supply chain.
"With all the facts we have, we find no credible evidence to indicate that Wendy's was the source of the foreign object," Mueller said.
Business has fallen off dramatically at Wendy's outlets in Northern California since the finger was discovered on March 22.
"This has been an ordeal for all of us. Hopefully there will be a resolution soon," Wendy's spokesman Bob Bertini said.
The Wendy's outlet where the finger was found, located at 1405 Monterey Highway, just south of downtown San Jose, is owned by Fresno-based Jern Management.