I am confident that the lightening quick minds associated with this web site will be able to solve this mystery.
Mystery of Wendy's Chili Finger Deepens
April 15, 2005 4:41 PM EDT
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Somewhere out there is a woman, dead or alive, who is missing a well-manicured finger about 1 1/2 inches long.
Authorities know where the finger ended up - in a bowl of Wendy's chili - but just who it belongs to is a mystery.
Anna Ayala's claim that she bit down on the finger in a mouthful of her steamy stew on March 22 initially drew sympathy. But when police and health officials failed to find any missing digits among the workers involved in the restaurant's supply chain, suspicion fell on Ayala, and her story has become a late-night punch line.
"She went back there for lunch today - she's trying to collect all five," quipped David Letterman.
Jay Leno joked: "Instead of a spoon, they serve it with nail clippers."
For executives at Dublin, Ohio-based Wendy's International Inc., it is anything but funny.
Sales have dropped at franchises in Northern California, forcing layoffs and reduced hours, the company said. Wendy's also has hired private investigators, set up a hot line for tips and doubled its reward Friday to $100,000 for information leading to the finger's original owner.
"Our brand reputation has been affected nationally. We are determined to find out what really happened," said president and chief executive Tom Mueller. He said Wendy's employees have passed polygraph tests, and "there is no credible evidence that Wendy's is the source of the foreign object."
DNA tests are being done on the finger. A partial fingerprint failed to turn up a match in a national database.
Tips are coming in from across the country, from "folks who either have lost a finger, or know somebody who lost a finger," said San Jose police Sgt. Nick Muyo.
"Our goal is to find where that finger came from and who it came from. Is this an industrial accident, is this a homicide? Once you determine that, then we can start working backward."
Health officials said it is apparently a woman's finger, because of the long, manicured nail. But investigators will not say which finger on the hand it was.
The most curious turn yet led to a dead end this week, after the owner of a Texas animal refuge called Wendy's hot line to say she remembered seeing a leopard being kept as a pet bite the fingertip off a Nevada woman. The victim, Sandy Allman, lost the part of an index finger in February when she was bitten by a spotted leopard, one of several exotic pets she kept around her trailer in Pahrump, Nev., 60 miles from Las Vegas.
However, the sheriff there later cast doubt on the Pahrump connection after learning that Allman had lost a mere fingertip.
Ayala hired a lawyer and filed a claim against the Wendy's franchise owner, Fresno-based JEM Management. But after police searched her home in Las Vegas and continued to question her family, she dropped the lawsuit threat, saying the whole situation was just too stressful.
"Lies, lies, lies, that's all I am hearing," Ayala said after police started questioning her. "They should look at Wendy's. What are they hiding? Why are we being victimized again and again?"
As it turns out, Ayala has a litigious history. She has filed claims against several corporations, including a former employer and General Motors, though it is unclear from court records whether she received any money. She said she got $30,000 from El Pollo Loco after her 13-year-old daughter got sick at one of the chain's Las Vegas-area restaurants. El Pollo Loco officials say she did not get a dime.
The San Jose Police fraud unit joined Las Vegas police in the search of her home there, and officers have questioned her relatives. A family friend, Ken Bono, 24, said the warrant indicated police were looking for a cooler, a blue bag and "any family documents about anybody dead."
Ayala's sister Mary, who lives in San Jose but missed the fateful meal at Wendy's, has been outspoken in defense of her sister.
The police "wanted to know if I ever asked her, even jokingly, `Hey, did you do it?'" Mary Ayala said. "I said, `No, my sister wouldn't do that.'" She added: "It's just a mess right now. Things are out of hand."
If police do obtain evidence that Ayala planted the finger, she could face charges of fraud, extortion or making false statements, legal experts said.
Back at the Wendy's where the chili was served, customers seem convinced the tale of the finger was a scam.
"There's too much in this country today with people trying to get things by conning them out of it. Wendy's has been good for years," said longtime customer 81-year-old Ralph Woodman. "How the hell would you get a finger into the pot without seeing it in there when you're stirring it? It had to be some sort of screwball ruse."
I may be dating myself with this Rowan and Martin Laugh In reference.
So far you have to give it to Letterman for the best line.
What about you, John B.? Do you think they will be able to finger the owner of this digit?
The police "wanted to know if I ever asked her, even jokingly, `Hey, did you do it?'" Mary Ayala said. "I said, `No, my sister wouldn't do that.'" She added: "It's just a mess right now.
Things are out of hand."
Actually, on second thought, this may be the best line so far.
Perhaps A.P. can get to work on this mystery. It could involve a catfish noodler who grabbed a fish who bit off more than it could chew.
All in all, I guess she was looking for a settlement in the double digits.
[This message was edited by Greg Gilleland on 04-15-05 at .]
Does Wendy's have a claim on "finger lick'in good" now?
Let's all give Tuck a hand.
I know you're all thinking it, especially you drummers and Lubbock musicians out there, so I'll go ahead and say it to keep my reputation soiled:
I'm sure glad Lorena Bobbitt didn't have access to a fast-food joint a few years back.
I believe it was Senor Butthead, of Beavis and Butthead fame, who once said:
"Yeah man, I'm psychic. Well, I can't remember if the Doctor said I was psychic or psychotic. It was one of those."
Around the Town, by P.
Anna Ayala is getting ready for her upcoming celebration of Michael Jackson's sure-to-be Not Guilty verdict. The buzz is that she has rented a clown, a jumping-bag fun house, a real pony and
even a VHS tape of Bambi. Anna has invited relatives and close friends to the festivities, including several movers and shakers with Hollywood connections, including Robert Blake's hairdresser's next-door neighbor's second cousin, O.J. Simpson's tailor's high school counselor and a fellow who once waved at President Kennedy during JFK's campaign swing across the Midwest. We asked Anna about refreshments and what she planned on serving the crowd of luminaries and she let us in on her boffo secret: "I was going to serve chili, but I decided on finger foods."
Note to self: See, A.P., you need counseling. Well, so do you, A.P.
From the San Jose Tattle Tale (Your subscription is our prescription for all the news that's fit to print)
Sources in and around San Jose have revealed some interesting facts and coincidences surrounding the Allaya chili finger case. Amazingly, several years ago, Anna Ayalla found yak droppings in her bottle of blood pressure pills. When she filed a lawsuit against Walgreens, she made sure that her affidavit pointed out that her recent trip to Tibet had nothing to do with that case, and she resented the scrutiny of authorities into her private affairs. And, to further demonstrate how bad luck can follow one person, the Tattle Tale learned that in 1974, during a visit to Texas, Anna purchased a fruit cake at the historic Corsicana Bakery. Lo and behold, when she got home and began to enjoy a piece of the famous fruitcake, she bit into a pair of Jimmy Hoffa's boxers. Anna settled with the city of Corsicana after negotiations, and agreed that for a stipend of $75 she would never come back to that part of Texas.
We can only hope that this string of horrible luck will finally end for the hapless lady.
On a lighter note, this case brings to mind lyrics from great hits by Texas and California musicians: "I Left My Heart in San Francisco"
"I Left Her Crying at the Altar"
"I Left My Finger in the Wendy's Chili Pot"
And who can forget that classic, "Do you know the way to San Jose? Why, yes, yes I do it's that way ... oops sorry, I keep forgetting, my pointer fell off at the Golden Corral salad bar."
Thanks, John for stirring up the demon inside...now, come see if you can shut him up.
[This message was edited by A.P. Merillat on 04-17-05 at .]
And of course, over the weekend driving in the car with one of my children, who wanted a burger, I began to look for a burger restaurant with a drive through.
We passed a Wendy's, but for some reason which I couldn't put my finger on, I decided not to go there.
It is with great regret that I must inform you that your colleagues have taken a vote, which is unanimous, to extend a restraining order against you, preventing you from ever again in this forum using the word "banjo". The punishment for using it again is to be accused of not being funny.
I accept the verdict of my peers, and must agree that I do not find the banjo funny either. Sorry about that last one.
That's not funny.
Though I stand to be corrected by P., I seem to remember a country song that might lead authorities to the blackguard who perpetrated this heinous act of culinary criminology: "I gave her a ring and she gave me the finger."
By the way, if litigation is to ensue from this, I think Amarillo would be a choice venue. We have scads of knowledge about adulterated food claims. If we can give Oprah a fair trial, there's no reason that the late Dave Thomas can't get a fair shake in the Panhandle.
I was buying it up until the point where you said that someone actually began to eat one of those fruit bricks. I thought they were only given away and then re-gifted over and over until the can got too rusty or dented to pass along.
You got to keep it real, man.
Here's some more information from a great site dealing with urban legends.
Thanks, JMH, or can I dispense with the formalities and just call you J? And here I was afraid nobody would believe the yak part, especially since there's only a herd or so left on the planet. I didn't think Jimmy's boxers would be that hard to swallow, though, if you know what I mean, heh-heh. And, believe it or not, I've heard of real people actually eating fruitcake, although I've never witnessed it. I do remember almost stepping in some crime scene bio-evidence a few times and musing on how it reminded me of fruitcake ingredients. Irregardless, which probably means regardless, or regardfull, when you actually disect it, J, thanks for the input, I'll try to do better next time.
So have authorities fingered a suspect yet?
Maybe, Digital Technology would help?
Or is this simply one more chance for the media to point out law enforcement failings?
I'm sure the Miami CSI would have the needed technology at their finger tips.
Finally (and worst) do the phone tipsters let their fingers do the talking.
Nevermind I should get back to work.
Well bless my soul, Anna Ayala, (apologies for my various spellings of her name) was arrested for Attempted Grand Theft -- exit only.
Anna Ayala was booked on attempted grand theft after being arrested Wednesday at a sherry tasting hosted by the Fleet Company. Ms. Ayala would not comment on the charges against her, referring all questions to her defense attorney, Jack Quagman. Police could not intially explain the extra fingerprint taken from Ms. Ayala at booking, though one officer, quoted on condition of anonymity, speculated that it might have been a "throw-down."
I guess that means that the false accuser Ms. Ayala actually gave Wendy's the finger...
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