A 19-year-old woman who told Bradford County deputies she chased down a man who was burglarizing her home and stabbed him before he stabbed her has admitted to making up the story.
Deputies said Ashleigh Elam and her roommate admitted to lying to investigators to cover up her roommate accidentally stabbing her in the leg, thinking she would get in trouble.
The Sheriff's Office received a call about a burglary interrupted by a homeowner about 7:20 p.m. Jan. 30 at a home on the Bradford-Clay county line on State Road 16.
Investigators from both counties, along with bloodhound tracking teams from Union Correctional Institute and a helicopter from the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office conducted for a white man wearing a black ski mask, black long-sleeve shirt and dark pants.
"I looked around to see what I could use to hit him with, and I found a knife, a little pocketknife that was sitting on the table," Elam told Channel 4 a day after the reported burglary and stabbing. "When I flicked it open, he heard me."
Elam said the man took off and she ran after him, chased him through the backyard, tackled him, then stabbed him with her knife.
Bradford County detective Sgt. Kevin Mueller, who was following up the investigation, said he realized the evidence was not matching the information being reported by the victim and her roommate. He decided to interview them again and present his concerns about the story and evidence not matching, investigators said.
"As you walk in the front door, you start hearing what the victim described happened or what she described happened, immediately you have a sense that this probably isn't true," Mueller said. "She was very calm, wasn't scared, wasn't shaken up, and neither was the other roommate that lived there that witnessed part of this. Yes, it was very odd to us."
As the investigation progressed, deputies pointed out inconsistencies in Elam and her roommate's stories.
"For instance she said that she'd stabbed him in the chest," Capt. Brad Smith said. "We would normally see a large amount of blood and blood trails leading away from there if the guy had run off, which we never saw anything like that."
There was also no evidence of the struggle she said she had with the burglar. That's when deputies decided to bring Elam and her roommate back in for questioning. Deputies said they stuck to their story until investigators took their cellphones away and threatened to subpoena their phone records.
That's when the two admitted to fabricating the story, deputies said.
The Sheriff's Office said it is currently in discussions with various agencies involved, including the state attorney's office, to decide what, if any, criminal charges will be filed against the teens.
Neighbors said they're shocked to hear the story was a hoax, "makes me feel a little safer, I will say that," Bonnie Landry said.
Someone at Elam's home Thursday answered her phone and said she was unavailable for comment and had been advised not to make any statements.