A Los Angeles couple who were arrested after a strange disappearance, alleged kidnapping and involvement in a high-profile robbery will not be charged with any crime, authorities announced Thursday.
There was not sufficient evidence to prosecute Darwin Vela and his girlfriend Kelly McLaren with their alleged involvement in a burglary from the home of actor Nicolas Cage’s ex-girlfriend, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.
The pair was in the spotlight last fall after Vela disappeared Nov. 19 and was missing for several days. Vela had gone to walk the couple’s dog, which had returned to their West Adams home alone, trailing a bloody leash, McLaren said.
Los Angeles police announced a call for help finding Vela, who turned up several days later and said he had been kidnapped. The disappearance was a hoax, police said.
While Vela, 23, was missing, he and McLaren, 24, had both been scheduled to testify in a criminal proceeding about a burglary from the home of Christina Fulton, Cage’s ex-girlfriend, who had employed the couple as well as a man named Richard Orozco.
Orozco had been charged in the Aug. 25 burglary. After Vela’s disappearance, he and McLaren were arrested Nov. 25 on suspicion of involvement in the burglary.
A prosecutor’s memo, filed Dec. 20 by Deputy District Attorney Deborah Kranze and released Thursday, stated that the evidence related to McLaren’s and Vela’s alleged involvement in the burglary was insufficient.
In a jury trial, prosecutors would be forced to use the couple’s own statements, trying to convince jurors that some of what they said was true while other parts were false, the memo stated.
Orozco, a convicted felon, had asked the pair to drive them to Fulton’s house, which he allegedly burglarized, according to the memo.
Orozco, McLaren and Vela had all met with an attorney for Charlie Sheen, claiming they knew of a sex tape involving the actor, a Los Angeles Police Department detective had testified in court. The tape, which drew tabloid attention to the case, never materialized, a spokeswoman for the DA’s office had told The Los Angeles Times.
Orozco, 39, remained Thursday at the Twin Towers Correction Facility in downtown L.A. on $1 million bail; he was due in court Jan. 15, according to the sheriff’s online inmate database.