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Woman in kidnapping hoax won't face charges despite costly search, Glendale police say

May 15, 2010 |  8:18 am

This undated image provided by the Glendale Police Department shows Nancy Salas. Police have resumed the search for the 22-year-old UCLA student, Salas, who went missing after a morning run Wednesday May 12, 2010 in a canyon northeast of Los Angeles.(AP Photo/Glendale Police Department)

The search for a 22-year-old Glendale woman who eventually said she made up her story about being kidnapped could cost taxpayers thousands of dollars.

Officials, however, said Nancy Salas is unlikely to face criminal charges in Glendale in connection with the hoax.

“She is an adult,” Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz told the News-Press. “And she has a right to do as she pleases, and if she wants to leave her family and her friends, that is her right.”

Still, he said city attorneys would evaluate if and how the city could recoup the costs of the massive search efforts.

In the hours after Salas was reported missing -- after a supposed run up Chevy Chase Canyon on Wednesday morning -- Glendale police assigned more than a dozen investigators to the case.

Many worked past midnight Wednesday with her family, friends and church members as a massive search in Chevy Chase Canyon was carried out with a police helicopter, bloodhounds and other canines trained to sniff out dead bodies.

Detectives pored through phone records and social networking websites for potential clues. Others knocked on the doors of local registered sex offenders and parolees with violent pasts.

Salas was found Thursday afternoon unharmed 270 miles north in Merced after she entered a downtown carpet store and said she had been abducted. At that point, Glendale police secured an airplane, and the department’s air unit flew detectives up to aid in the investigation and bring Salas home. But shortly before reuniting with her family in Glendale, Salas told investigators she had made up the kidnapping story.

“It did cause a search, and it did expend an enormous amount of resources, resources that could have been used to investigate other cases,” Lorenz said. “And it certainly is on the taxpayer’s dime.”

The Merced Police Department could still press charges for filing a false police report. Merced police officials could not be reached Friday for comment.

Read the full story here.

-- Melanie Hicken reporting for the Glendale News-Press

Photo: Nancy Salas. Credit: Glendale Police Department