In a twist seemingly too outlandish for even a movie plot, a California woman is accused of framing her husband’s ex-fiancee by telling police the woman was harassing her and tried to have her attacked by random men by posting “rape fantasy” ads on Craigslist.
The purported harassment victim, Angela Diaz, 31, is now facing several felony charges, while the formerly accused ex-fiancee, Michelle Hadley, has been exonerated.
Diaz, whose maiden name is Angela Connell, is the husband of Deputy U.S. Marshal Ian Diaz, who was previously engaged to Hadley. She said she was pregnant at the time she made the harassment allegations, according to authorities, but that also may have been a lie.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas held a press conference Monday morning, alongside the Anaheim Police Department and Hadley’s attorney, Michael Guisti, to announce the charges – including kidnapping, false imprisonment, perjury and forgery – against Angela Diaz, who prosecutors once called an “innocent bystander” in the case.
Authorities say Diaz is accused of altering a check from her employer to add $2,000 to the total and they “also uncovered other fraud activity by Diaz, who is accused of faking cervical cancer, pretending to be an attorney, forging doctor’s notes, faking a pregnancy, and impersonating two of John Doe’s ex-girlfriends over email.”
Hadley was arrested in July 2016 and charged with several felonies, including attempted forcible rape, first-degree burglary and stalking. She was held on $1 million bail and spent 88 days in jail. The case made national and international headlines, with Hadley’s mugshot and headlines deeming her a “crazy ex-girlfriend” splashed across websites.
Hadley, of Ontario, California, was released on her own recognizance in October. The charges against her were dropped on January 9.
“It’s often said that true life is stranger than fiction,” Rackauckas said. “And the facts of this case make that statement spot on. When a person who has committed a crime gets arrested and charged, that’s a bad day. But when someone that’s innocent gets arrested and charged with a crime, that’s not just a bad day, that’s a nightmare. This is the tale of a woman who faced such a nightmare.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Diaz Claimed She Was Attacked by a Man Who Responded to a Craigslist Ad
Angela Diaz applied for a restraining order against Michelle Suzanne Hadley, her husband’s former fiancee, on June 6, claiming Hadley was harassing her, prosecutors said in their press release in July 2016.
The press release has since been deleted from the Orange County District Attorney’s website. It is now not clear if Diaz was actually being harassed by Hadley at the time.
Prosecutors accused Hadley of violating the restraining order from June 6 to July 13 by sending Diaz “numerous emails including threats against the life of Jane Doe and her unborn child and disparaging comments about the victim’s husband. Hadley is accused of routing the emails to the victim through different computers and servers in order to avoid detection by law enforcement,” the district attorney’s office said.
In court documents, Angela Diaz described the alleged harassment:
Ms Hadley has been emailing me for over one week, repeatedly threatening my life, my marriage, my safety, and slandering my husband. Ms Hadley has used over six different email addresses to contact me, despite a request to cease communication. I am now fearful of leaving my home, have had to delete my online presence, and am incredibly emotionally distressed. I am fearful of being ‘raped,’ ‘attacked,’ ‘killed.’ I have had to completely uproot my life, including missing work at a new job to quash this issue. he tone and tenor of these emails escalates and there seems no sign of stopping.
The emails came from a man named “Jason Ray” on Linkedin, and Angela Diaz replied to those emails accusing the sender of being Hadley, and also told police she believed Ray was Hadley.
The emails included several Biblical references:
There are legends that Adam had a wife before Eve who was named Lilith, but this is not found in the Bible. The legends vary significantly, but they all essentially agree that Lilith left Adam because she did not want to submit to him. According to the legends, Lilith was an evil, wicked woman who committed adultery with Satan and produced a race of evil creatures.
I hope you are scared of death tomorrow. Be prepared. Don’t sleep, be watchful of the Daughters of God. We will steal your child and we will watch as it dies. (He) is using you for everything. Don’t you see this? He is obsessed with me, I am his treasure princess, you are nothing. Watch your back tomorrow.
Police also began investigating claims that Hadley had been posting Craigslist advertisements soliciting rape in Diaz’s name.
“Hadley is accused of replying to men who had posted on Craigslist, including sending them photos of the victim and details of the victim’s daily routine. Hadley is accused of telling the responders that the victim wanted the responders to have forcible sexual intercourse with her, even if she screamed or resisted,” the district attorney’s office said.
That accusation also now appears to be fabricated by Diaz.
Diaz told police “several” of the men who responded to the ads showed up at the victim’s home “with the intention of raping the victim but did not succeed.”
She told investigators one of the men “physically attacked the victim before she was able to call for help.”
Diaz said the man fled the scene, but he was not found by Anaheim Police. Police now say she faked that crime scene and accusation.
On June 24, Hadley was arrested for the first time on several charges. She was released on $100,000 bail that same day.
But the Craigslist ads didn’t stop, and police accused Hadley of continuing to post them.
“Hadley is accused of using increasingly violent language and threatening the victim’s life,” the Orange County Prosecutor’s Office said in its press release.
Prosecutors said Diaz knew Hadley had been released from custody and began sending the fake threats again.
That led to the second arrest of Hadley on July 14.
Prosecutors said the emails were really coming from Diaz, and that was uncovered through an investigation that took several months:
On many occasions from June 1, 2016, to July 13, 2016, Diaz is accused of falsely filing police reports with APD, calling for officers to respond to the home she shared with John Doe. The defendant is accused of making false claims that Hadley made threats against her life and the life of her unborn child. Diaz is accused of routing emails to herself under the guise of appearing that the threatening e-mails came from Hadley from approximately eight different accounts using Virtual Private Networks (VPN’s) and third-party proxy servers in order to avoid detection of her Internet Protocol (IP) address by law enforcement.
Investigators found records showing the posts actually came from the home Angela Diaz shared with Ian Diaz, from Angela Diaz’s phone and from her father’s home in Phoenix.
Prosecutors say there is no evidence Ian Diaz knew of Angela Diaz’s scheme.
“From what we’re seeing, she’s a serial con artist,” Assistant District Attorney Richard Zimmer said of Diaz. “She duped us. It was very sophisticated, well thought out and took a great deal of planning.”
2. Angela & Ian Diaz Got Engaged Not Long After His Rocky 2-Year Relationship With Hadley Came to an End
Hadley and the victim’s husband, Ian Diaz, who works as a deputy with the U.S. Marshal’s Service, dated from 2013 to 2015, before he was married to the victim, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Hadley’s father, Michael Hadley, told The Daily Beast his daughter met Ian Diaz in 2013 at a Starbucks, and they began dating after he told her she how beautiful she was.”
A now-deleted wedding registry said they were set to be married in February 2016.
Ian Diaz and Michelle Hadley broke up around September 2015, and he began dating Angela Connell soon after. It was not long before they were married and she was pregnant.
Michael Hadley told The Daily Beast the relationship was filled with problems, and court documents reveal some of those issues, including a disastrous breakup that involved protective orders and other legal battles.
Ian Diaz filed for a protective order against Hadley in September 2015, after they broke up, but it was dismissed three weeks after it was filed.
Diaz submitted several email exchanges he had with Hadley, along with accusations against her from incidents during their relationship, in his request for the protective order, court documents show. But it is now not clear if she wrote those emails, or if they were fabricated by Diaz.
“I work as a U.S. Marshal and after showing my supervisor the threatening emails, he recommended that I seek a domestic violence restraining order,” the deputy said in his September 2015 petition,” Diaz wrote. “(She) has told me that I must comply with her demands or be prepared for God’s vengeance and referred to me as Satan and the Antichrist. Because of her emotional instability, history of fits of rage, and self-medication with alcohol, I fear for my safety.”
Prosecutors said the email sent by Hadley to Ian Diaz had similar language, specifically Biblical references, to the emails they now say were created by Angela Diaz. That caused investigators to believe the threats and emails were real.
Hadley brought her own case against Ian Diaz, according to court records. The couple had bought a condo in Anaheim together for $468,500, and Hadley sued Diaz for breach of settlement for not assuming the mortgage. Hadley moved out of the condo after they split up.
That civil case is still pending, and a case management conference was postponed in October because Hadley was in jail. Another conference is scheduled for January 10.
You can read more about Hadley and her relationship with Ian Diaz here.
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3. She Was Arrested in Arizona & Is Facing 32 Charges
Angela Connell Diaz was arrested on January 6 in Arizona, where she is being held pending extradition to California, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office has lodged 32 counts against her, including 10 felonies — two counts each of kidnapping, possession or receipt of items as forgery, acts constituting forgery and one count each of kidnapping, and one count each of false imprisonment effected by violence, menace, fraud or deceit and grand theft.
She is also facing 21 misdemeanor counts of false report of criminal offense, along with filing a false report with police.
Diaz could be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison if found guilty.
She does not appear to have a criminal record in Orange County, beyond a traffic infraction in 2015. She also has traffic charges on her record from Phoenix, Arizona.
While prosecutors and police put forward statements saying they had an airtight case against Hadley, some, including her father, cast doubt on Angela Diaz’s version of events from the beginning.
After her arrest, Michelle Hadley’s father, Michael Hadley, was quick to claim his daughter was being set up, but in an interview with The Daily Beast, he accused Ian Diaz, not Angela Diaz, of being behind the plot to frame her.
“When she left the place she had nothing,” Hadley said. “She showed up on our doorstep and that was all she wrote. She didn’t want to get anything out (of the condo). She just wanted to get away from him. She has been scared to death of this guy since the day she left him.”
Michael Hadley told The Daily Beast police never took a statement from Michelle Hadley, and never accepted her request for them to go through her emails.
Prosecutors initially stood by the investigation, telling The Daily Beast in July 2016 the investigation by police was “very thorough.”
Deputy District Attorney Richard Zimmer said, “What was presented to us … we have enough evidence to prove this case to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. This case just shows some of the dangers of social media and the online world we live in now.”
Zimmer told reporters he was “sick to his stomach” after he realized Hadley was innocent.
“I’ve had more sleepless nights these past six months than I’ve ever had,” Zimmer said. “The last thing our office wants to do is charge an innocent person.”
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4. She Graduated From Arizona State in 2006 & Worked for Charity Organizations
Angela Connell Diaz, a native of Phoenix, Arizona, graduated from Arizona State University in 2006 with degrees in theatre and political science, according to her Linkedin profile.
Prior to Arizona State, she graduated from Bourgade Catholic High School in Phoenix in 2003.
She describes herself on her Linkedin profile as the founder and CEO of YouthSpeak, which she started in 2004.
“YouthSpeak is a non-profit organization that seeks to assist underserved countries. Through the building of self-sustaining clincs (sic), schools, and youth facilities–we are able to rebuild the crumbling foundations of some of the poorest countries around the world. Current projects are in Honduras, Central America,” she writes.
Connell’s connections to Honduras and charity work begin with her father, Dr. Patrick Connell, an Arizona doctor who has spent several years volunteering in Central America and elsewhere.
Connell has also worked with the SPCA of Orange County.
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5. Hadley, Who Works in Marketing, Faced Up to Life in Prison if Convicted of the Charges Against Her
Hadley faced up to life in prison if convicted of all the charges she was accused of.
According to court records, she was charged with six counts of attempted forcible rape, stalking, stalking with a restraining order, criminal threats, three counts of a secondary offense committed while released from custody and assault with intent to commit sexual offense during the commission of first-degree burglary, all felonies. She was also charged with misdemeanor violation of a protective/stay away order.
The charges were dropped on January 9.
“I want to make sure that Ms. Hadley is cleared in every possible way,” District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said at a press conference Monday morning. “In the courtroom, and in the court of public opinion. It needs to be made clear in the media and in cyberspace. Ms. Hadley is an innocent victim of a diabolical scheme.”
Hadley is a California native who graduated from Claremont High School, according to her Facebook page.
She then studied at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, graduating in 2009 with a degree in medieval and early modern studies and minors in art history and women’s studies, she says on her Linkedin profile. She is pursuing her master’s of business administration at Chapman University, with a focus in marketing, and was scheduled to graduate in 2017.
Since graduating from college, Hadley has had several jobs, including as a proposal and marketing support manager at the York Risk Services Group from 2011 to 2014, and as an associate program manager at Disneyland from 2014 to 2015, according to her Linkedin profile.
“Her life has been pretty much taken away from her. She feels the eyes of everyone on her when she goes out — wondering if she is that person who did all those things — so she stays inside,” her attorney, Michael Guisti, told the Los Angeles Times. “She’s asking herself how does one go on to rebuild after something like this.”
Guisti said Hadley plans to resume her graduate studies now that she’s been cleared.