A Los Angeles couple who were scheduled to testify in a high-profile burglary case — then were both arrested on suspicion of burglary in that case following the man’s strange disappearance — were out of bail Tuesday, as police said their tale was a hoax.
The strange case, involving the names of multiple celebrities, has taken many unexpected turns in the past week.
Darwin Vela, 22, was reported missing after his 24-year-old fiancee Kelly McLaren said he vanished while walking his dog on the evening of Nov. 19. The animal returned alone to the couple’s West Adams home with a bloody leash, McLaren said, and Vela’s family and the Los Angeles Police Department officials asked for the public’s help finding the missing man.
Then, on Friday afternoon, Vela turned up near Marina del Rey and was taken to an LAPD station. He said he had been kidnapped by three men and held prisoner, according to police.
He was bruised but fine, police told McLaren and Vela’s mother at the time.
Investigators believe the story was a hoax, police Cmdr. Andrew Smith said Tuesday.
McLaren and Vela had been scheduled to testify Thursday against Ricardo Orozco, a man suspected of burglarizing the home of actor Nicolas Cage’s ex-girlfriend Christina Fulton.
McLaren had said she and her fiance were witnesses to the crime, refusing to comment on reports that they were involved in the alleged burglary.
McLaren appeared in court but refused to testify, asserting her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, court records show.
At the hearing, a police detective said Orozco, Vela and McLaren met before the burglary with an attorney representing Charlie Sheen, saying they knew of a sex tape involving the actor, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The threesome did not have the tape, and it’s not clear if it actually exists, a Los Angeles Superior Court spokeswoman told The Times.
Then, on Monday, both McLaren and Vela were arrested on suspicion of burglary, in connection with the Orozco case, according to police.
They were held on $20,000 bail, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department inmate locator website.
They posted bond and were released from custody just before 1 a.m. Tuesday, the inmate website showed.
On Tuesday, Kelly McLaren’s mother Linda McLaren told KTLA that her daughter, Vela and Orozco were all employed by Fulton, Cage’s ex-girlfriend.
“They all worked for this person, Christina Fulton,” Linda McLaren told KTLA. “Part of Darwin’s and Kelly’s duties were to give rides to … Ricardo, and to other people, various people, and to run errands.”
The couple were scheduled to appear in court Dec. 16.
Orozco, 39, was arrested Oct. 22 and was being held in the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown L.A. on $1 million bail, inmate records showed. He was slated to next appear in court on Dec. 5.
KTLA’s Christina Pascucci and Kacey Montoya contributed to this report.