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Woman in acid hoax pleads not guilty to theft

By The CNN Wire Staff
Police became suspicious because Storro's face did not match photos of other recorded acid attacks.
Police became suspicious because Storro's face did not match photos of other recorded acid attacks.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bethany Storro faces three counts of theft
  • She claimed a woman threw acid in her face
  • Storro later confessed to doing the damage herself

(CNN) -- A Washington woman who admitted to throwing a corrosive liquid on her own face pleaded not guilty Wednesday to three counts of theft.

Bethany Storro appeared at her arraignment in a Clark County court with a red, scarred face and her hair pulled back in a bun.

Prosecutors said she made up a story that she was attacked on August 30 by an African-American woman, after which a California resident sent her money, and two businesses held fundraisers to contribute to her treatment.

The theft counts stem from those donations. In Washington state, theft against a person acting as a good Samaritan is considered an aggravating circumstance.

Two-and-a-half weeks after the incident, police announced the 28-year-old grocery store employee admitted doing the damage herself.

Video: Theft charges filed in 'acid hoax' case
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They say Storro bought drain cleaner at a hardware store and applied it to her face with a towel in a park restroom.

Michael Kite, a California resident, sent Storro $1,000 via a PayPal account. Anytime Fitness, a gym Storro belonged to, and a Safeway store, where Storro worked, both held fundraisers.

Storro has spent about $1,500 of the nearly $28,000 donated to her, CNN affiliate KING reported, citing court documents. She bought a train ticket for her sister, went on a shopping spree at Target and took her parents out to dinner, KING said.

Det. Wallis Stefan, the lead investigator in the case, said his initial interviews with Storro uncovered a number of inconsistencies -- including that the chemical burns on her face appeared to have been applied and not splashed.

Further, he wrote, Stefan found no evidence in or around Storro's vehicle of an acid attack, and photographs of Storro's face did not match photos of other recorded acid attacks.

Storro came clean, he said, when detectives arrived at her home on September 16 to serve a search warrant.

Storro admitted buying drain cleaner at a hardware store and applying it to her face with a towel in a park restroom.

"Storro told me the reason she applied the caustic substance was to first, kill herself," Stefan wrote. "Secondly, she stated, if that proved not to be fatal, then she could get her face redone."

Storro told him she "thought there would be no evidence of me doing it to myself" and that police "would give up on trying to find the person and it would be done."

Stefan said Storro acknowledged her Miranda rights and waived them before giving him a 90-minute statement.