When officers found her in a dumpster at 5:30 a.m. on a freezing March morning, the woman appeared to be in horrible shape, Colorado police said.
The 31-year-old woman’s hands were zip-tied, police said, though it appeared she had freed herself from other ties. She couldn’t speak, but she was conscious and breathing.
The woman was quickly taken to a nearby Vail, Colorado, hospital to be treated for various injuries on March 27, police said. Detectives interviewed the woman at the hospital, and police asked members of the community to come forward if anyone had seen suspicious activity.
“We’re not ruling anything out,” Detective Sgt. Luke Causey told Vail Daily at the time. “We don’t pull young ladies out of dumpsters very often.”
But now one possibility has been ruled out, according to police: the possibility that the woman in the dumpster, Linnea Hayda, was telling the truth about how she’d ended up there. Vail police arrested Hayda on April 12 on charges of false reporting to police, tampering with evidence and attempting to influence a public servant. If convicted, Hayda could face up to six years in prison.
“People have been on edge, thinking that someone is harming people and dropping them in trash dumpsters,” Heidi McCollum, assistant district attorney, told Vail Daily. “Hopefully, they can now rest easier.”
Hayda went to the Vail Daily’s offices the day after she was found in the dumpster and told a reporter that she had been abducted around 5:30 p.m. on March 26 after finishing work, the newspaper reports. Then she was tossed in a car by someone who told her she wouldn’t see her kids again, Hayda said. The next thing Hayda knew, she was found in a dumpster, she told the reporter.
The tale — spun to media and law enforcement alike — turned out to be false, police said.
“After a thorough investigation totaling over 200 hours, Vail detectives concluded that an account provided by Hayda, which led police to issue an alert to the community asking about suspicious activity, proved to be fictitious,” police said in a statement announcing the arrest.
There was a court order in place keeping Hayda from going near an apartment complex near the dumpster where she was found, police told the newspaper. Hayda had a custody hearing involving her children three days after the dumpster incident.
Hayda is free after posting $7,500 bond, police said.