In puzzling twist, woman found bound and gagged in Santa Ana wasn’t kidnapped, police now say

Law enforcement officers searched the Santa Ana home where a woman, thought to be in her late 30s or early 40s, was found bound and gagged.

Santa Ana police detectives determined Tuesday evening that a woman found bound and gagged inside a vacant home in Santa Ana was not kidnapped.

The woman, who is homeless, told authorities earlier in the day that she was abducted hours earlier close to the bike trail near Rousselle Street.

But as detectives interviewed the woman, they began to find inconsistencies in her story.

“Based on that interview, they now know a kidnapping did not occur,” said Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna. “The investigation has now moved to — how did she get in the state the patrol officers found her?”


Bertagna said the woman was found after maintenance contractors working for the city went to the vacant home at 315 E. Warner Ave. to work on the property and found a gate knocked down and a padlock that didn’t belong to the city on the back door.

The workers called the police, who heard moaning once they entered the home, Bertagna said. They found the woman, thought to be in her late 30s to mid-40s, in a bedroom.

She told authorities she had been kidnapped by a man and forced to walk to the vacant property where she was bound and gagged, Bertagna said.

Now that authorities have concluded that story isn’t true, they must figure out what actually happened, he said. Bertagna said he couldn’t go into details about the methods used to tie up the woman and cover her mouth because of the ongoing investigation.


“Our understanding is she’s married, and so we know she has a life, and she was separated from her husband to go do something,” Bertagna said. “Now the question for the detectives is what occurred in that house. We’re glad there’s not a person kidnapping people off the streets of Santa Ana — but now we have to figure out what happened in the house, and was it criminal in nature?”

Detectives could ultimately submit the woman’s case to the district attorney for making false criminal reports to police, he said.

The city is widening the streets in the area and bought the home as part of that project, Bertagna said.

The maintenance contractors were not responding to the broken gate at the home but rather were scheduled to go to the home Tuesday to perform work, he said.

It is not uncommon to find homeless people sheltering in vacant homes in Santa Ana, Bertagna said.

“But you don’t usually find them bound and gagged.”

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