GLENDALE, Calif. (CBS/AP) When UCLA dropout Nancy Salas disappeared from her Glendale home last week she triggered a massive police search complete with bloodhounds and a helicopter scouring a canyon near her family's home northeast of Los Angeles.
Not to mention door-to-door distribution of flyers to help find the missing woman.
Now the district attorney in Merced, Calif. is weighing whether the 22-year-old Salas deserves to be prosecuted for the story
she told - and the 911 call she made - falsely claiming she'd been abducted at knifepoint, and sexually assaulted.
Salas vanished from her home Wed. May 12 after claiming she was going on a morning run. She left her cell phone, keys and car at home.
She was found a day later about 300 miles away in central California after walking into a carpet store. Witnesses said she was crying. She dialed 911 and told her dramatic tale of kidnap and assault. Later she recanted to police.
Why did she fake it? Salas had been telling family and friends that she was about to graduate from the UCLA with a sociology degree to prepare for a career in public health. Detectives soon discovered she hadn't been enrolled since September 2008. Salas said she was afraid to tell her parents she dropped out.
She told detectives that she left school after her scholarship money ran out, and her grades weren't good enough to earn another one.
Merced police said last week that they would not seek criminal charges. But Lt. Andrew Matthews said investigators changed their minds after taking a second look at the 911 call and claims she made to detectives.
Merced police plan to file a report with the Merced County district attorney's office this week, Matthews said.
If authorities decide to prosecute, Salas would probably face a misdemeanor charge that carries up to a year in jail, police said.
MORE ON CRIMESIDER