Monday, January 26, 2009

Anna Ayala - Wendys

AKA Anna Dalia Ayala

Born: December 22nd, 1965

Gender: Female

Race or Ethnicity: Hispanic

Sexual orientation: Straight

Occupation: Criminal, Hoaxer
Nationality: United States

Executive summary: Wendy's chili-finger woman

Anna Ayala attracted nationwide attention after a chili meal she received from a Wendy's franchise (1405 Monterey Highway, San Jose, CA) on 22 March 2005 allegedly contained a human finger. On Good Morning America she claimed to have bitten into the 1.5 inch fingertip. Having chomped something unchompable, she spat the object out, complained to management, and brought the matter to the attention of American media. She told Good Morning America: "Just knowing that there was a human remain in my mouth[...] It is disgusting. It is tearing me apart inside."
Her finger story had all the right elements: ick factor, fast food contamination and the mystery of the finger itself. Wendy's offered a reward of $50,000 for information about the source of the finger, later doubling it. At one point, Sandy Allman, a Nevada woman, came forward and suggested the fingertip belonged to her, lost during a tiger attack. It was not hers, instead turning out to have belonged to a coworker of Ayala's husband at a paving company. The unfortunate victim, Brian Paul Rossiter, lost the digit on the job when his hand was caught in a truck lift mechanism.

The San Jose Police Department investigated the "chain of custody" of the chili, back to its base ingredients. All digits accounted for, police worked with their Nevada counterparts and searched Ayala's Las Vegas home on April 8th. Ayala described the search to the San Francisco Chronicle: "They put guns to us and handcuffed us and threw us to the ground in front of all my neighbors... They treated us like trash, like terrorists. It's the worst nightmare." Ayala dropped her lawsuit around this time and stopped speaking to the press.
Publicity surrounding this spectacle has brought unfortunate scrutiny on Anna Ayala herself. In an earlier case, she claimed to have been awarded $30,000 from El Pollo Loco, another chain, after her daughter allegedly became sick after a meal. Pollo Loco denies that story. But on 22 April, Ayala was arrested in Las Vegas on an further unrelated charge of real estate fraud, in a matter concerning $11,000 over the sale of a mobile home that the woman did not actually own.