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Origin of the Infamous finger in the chili reveald


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Home of woman who reported finger in chili searched


By Sandra Gonzales


Mercury News



The saga of the mysterious finger in a bowl of Wendy's chili continues.


Authorities have searched the Las Vegas home of the woman who reported it. No one is saying what they were looking for.


``I'd like to know, too,'' said a distraught Anna Ayala from her home in Las Vegas on Thursday night. ``I've been dragged through the mud. We've been treated like animals. I've been through too much.''


Ayala, 39, said police officers were at her home from about 4 to 11 p.m. Wednesday. She said they ransacked her home, broke down doors and even pointed a gun to her head at one point.


``They destroyed my home,'' said Ayala, who would not say what, if anything, police took.


She scoffed at TV news reports Thursday that suggested the finger may have belonged to a deceased aunt. She said all her aunts are alive.


``It's a bunch of lies,'' she said.


San Jose police officer Gina Tepoorten confirmed that local investigators along with the Las Vegas police served a search warrant Wednesday, but she wouldn't divulge further details.


``We're not going to put out our findings,'' Tepoorten said. ``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.''


Asked if the search suggested that authorities were investigating the possibility the finger may have been planted, Tepoorten said, ``We're looking into all possibilities.''


Tepoorten emphasized those possibilities could include an industrial accident or an unreported homicide.


In another development, Wendy's on Thursday offered a $50,000 reward for the first person to provide verifiable information leading to the origin of the finger.


Wendy's officials said every restaurant employee had been interviewed and no one has suffered a hand injury nor were any such injuries reported by any of its suppliers of the chili ingredients.


``With all the facts we have, we find no credible evidence that Wendy's was the source of the foreign object,'' said Bob Bertini, a spokesman for Wendy's. ``At this point it's important for us to know the truth.''


Ayala was dining at Wendy's fast-food restaurant on Monterey Road in San Jose on March 22 when she chomped on the tip of a human finger while eating a bowl of chili.


The case, which could have been written off as an urban legend, gained nationwide attention after Santa Clara County's medical examiner determined the finger was genuine.


Ayala has since hired a lawyer, and several agencies are continuing the search for the finger's owner.


The finger is with the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner's Office, which is conducting DNA tests that could turn up the race and gender of the person it was once attached to.



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