Vancouver woman admits acid attack hoax

Vancouver woman admits acid attack hoax

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by Michael Rollins and David Krough, KGW staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @KGWNews

kgw.com

Posted on December 21, 2010 at 11:51 AM

Poll:
Do you think Bethany Storro should face charges for the acid hoax?

VANCOUVER, Wash. -- A Vancouver woman is being charged with a crime after she admitted faking an attack in which her face was doused in acid.

Bethany Storro was set to be charged with three counts of theft with aggravating circumstances in connection with fundraisers after the attack, according to Clark County prosecutors.

A warrant was issued for her arrest.

Storro's parents held a press conference Friday to say they and their daughter were "deeply sorry" for what happened.

Raw Video: Parents apologize for acid hoax

Outside their Vancouver home, Joseph and Nancy Neuwelt said they each believed "as any good parent would" that their daughter had been the victim of an attack. They said they did not know until Thursday that the ordeal was a hoax.

They said now is the time to "lean on faith and family and friends" to help Storro get the help she needs. They added that they were unaware their daughter had such "deep internal psychological and emotional problems."

They also apologized on Storro's behalf to her co-workers at Safeway and fellow members of Anytime Fitness, who were planning a fundraiser in her honor.

Joseph Neuwelt said all money donated to his daughter's relief fund will be returned through the proper channels.

An investigation indicated that the reported acid attack on Storro was self-inflicted, Vancouver police said Thursday.

They called the incident a hoax during a Thursday afternoon press conference and  the results of the investigation will now be turned over to the county prosecutor's office.

Chief Clifford Cook said discrepancies started to appear as detectives started to investigate the case. Thursday morning, they served a search warrant at her home, then interviewed Storro, who eventually confessed that the attack was a self-inflicted hoax, he said.

A motive for the fabrication has not been determined, the chief said.

The chief said the case unfortunately has cast Vancouver, in particular the Esther Short Park area, as an unsafe area. He called the area "the jewel of the city." He thanked everyone who assisted with the case.

Sgt. Scott Creager, who investigated the case, said frankly that "I'm glad it did end this way." There is no predator that the public needs to fear in what he described as a "happy ending" of sorts. The reason for the press conference today was to allay public concerns about safety.

Commander Marla Schuman said Storro was very upset and remorseful, especially when the story "got much bigger than she expected."

Cook said Storro's parents have not been interviewed since the press conference. It would be "speculative" to characterize their prior knowledge of the new information, he said.

Storro and her parents could not be reached for comment.

Storro met with media last week

A remarkably upbeat and candid Storro, 28, sat in front of reporters a week ago at Legacy Emanuel Hospital and described how a woman threw acid on her face.

She spoke for about 20 minutes, sometimes laughing, sometime crying, using a tissue to dab at her eyes or nose, the only  part of her face not covered in bandages.

Storro said she held the press conference to draw attention to efforts to find the attacker, but also to talk about her faith.

"I'm here today because of Jesus Christ," she said.

The strength of her faith will allow her to move forward, Storro said, though several times she said that the attacker coming forward to admit what she had done would be an enriching part of that.

"I have no enemies," she said, "In time I'm going to forgive her. Then I can move on."

Background: Storro speaks at hospital press conference

Storro said she wonders what could have gone through the attacker's mind as she prepared the acidic mixture to throw randomly on a stranger.

Her attacker was very non-descript as far as a potential suspect, she said, and fit in with the usual passersby of the Esther Park area of downtown Vancouver. At the moment of throwing the acid, she appeared to be in a rage.

That Monday, Storro said she had just picked up a paycheck and decided to buy a pair of sunglasses, even though she doesn't favor wearing them.

"For some reason I had this feeling that I needed to go buy some sunglasses," she said. They ultimately saved the vision of a woman who has been partially deaf since childhood. "That's Jesus for sure," she said.

"To be hard of hearing and blind.  That would drive them crazy," she said, laughing while motioning to her parents on either side of her.

More: Storro leaves hospital to recover at home

Doctors have told her it's too early to tell how her recovery will go. The portions of her face that appear green in photographs were the most damaged and may result in scar tissue, or possibly need grafts from the skin on her leg.

Her surgery was basically one massive face peel, she said. She could have waited for the skin to heal more, or have it done right away.

She has been in a great deal of pain, both physically and emotionally. Her family and hospital staff have been kind and supportive. As she would become frustrated, she realized "there's nobody to get mad at. Everyone is so nice to me."

Support via emails and letters have come from all over the world, Storro said, dabbing her eyes as she described how she would move along in life.

"It's not about looks," Storro said.

 

 

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