A Lady Was Jailed For Lying About Finding A Finger In Her Food. Now She’s Revealed A Twisted Secret

It’s March 2010 in California, and Anna Ayala is giving an interview about her unlikely life. Five years ago, she reported finding a human finger in a bowl of chili – and served four years behind bars for the attempted hoax. Now, for the first time, she reveals the stomach-churning details of her ill-fated plan.

Born on December 22, 1965, Ayala grew up in Donna, a small town in southern Texas. But by the time she was in her early 30s, she found herself 2,000 miles away in the Californian city of San Jose. And there, she became embroiled in what would be the first of many legal battles.

In 1998, Ayala launched a sexual harassment lawsuit against La Oferta, a local newspaper. However, the case ultimately came to nothing. And two years later, she was back at her attorney’s office attempting to file a suit against Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, General Motors and a dealership in San Jose.

ADVERTISEMENT

According to Ayala, the wheel of her vehicle had fallen off. However, the suit disappeared when she dismissed her attorney, declined to submit vital paperwork and failed to show up to court. Amazingly, this didn’t seem to deter the mom-of-two, and four years later she was back making outlandish legal claims.

In 2004, Ayala began telling people that she had been awarded $30,000 in a lawsuit against El Pollo Loco, a national broiled chicken chain. Apparently, her daughter had received food poisoning after dining at one of their restaurants near Las Vegas, Nevada. The settlement, it seems, had been awarded to cover her medical costs.

ADVERTISEMENT

However, a spokeswoman for El Pollo Loco denied Ayala’s claims at the time, stating that they had merely reviewed the case. In addition, the company hadn’t paid a penny in compensation. But despite the failure of her previous legal battles, Ayala tried again in March 2005. And this scheme would make her notorious around the world.

ADVERTISEMENT

In March of 2005, 39-year-old Ayala, who was living in Las Vegas at the time, decided to pay an evening visit to a San Jose branch of the Wendy’s fast food chain. And there, she made a startling discovery in her chili bowl. Apparently, she had taken a bite of her slow-cooked dish – only to find a severed finger lurking within.

ADVERTISEMENT

At the time, Enrique Garcia, an officer with the San Jose Police Department, confirmed the discovery. “It was some sort of small mass which appeared to have a fingernail,” he told the local Mercury News in 2005. “It’s a small piece. They collected the finger and placed it in a freezer for the health department.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Soon, the County Health Department in Santa Clarita got involved, and Wendy’s found itself in a public relations nightmare. Before long, officials had confirmed that the discovery was definitely human in origin, approximately one inch in length. Sickeningly, a section of manicured nail was still attached to the digit.

ADVERTISEMENT

But where had the mystery finger come from, and how could it have ended up in Ayala’s bowl of chili? Despite a substantial investigation, officials could only determine that the digit did not belong to an employee of Wendy’s, nor any associated facilities. Moreover, although it initially appeared to have been cooked, a coroner’s report revealed otherwise.

ADVERTISEMENT

In fact, the report claimed that the finger “was not consistent with an object that had been cooked in chili at 170 degrees for three hours,” as per the fast food chain’s policy. And when the fact that Ayala had hired a lawyer soon after the incident came to light, many grew suspicious about the legitimacy of her gruesome find.

ADVERTISEMENT

In Las Vegas, police searched Ayala’s home in an event that she described as violent – although neighbors did not back up her claims. Meanwhile, rumors began to circulate that the finger may have belonged to her deceased aunt. And when the truth about Nevada resident’s past lawsuits emerged, she announced that she would be dropping the case.

ADVERTISEMENT

Still struggling with negative press as a result of the incident, Wendy’s upped its offer for information about the finger from $50,000 to $100,000. And on April 21, 2005, police arrested Ayala on suspicion of grand larceny. By this time, the fast food chain estimated that they had lost over $2.5 million as a direct result of the incident.

ADVERTISEMENT

At the same time, authorities also charged Ayala with grand theft in connection to a mobile home that she had fraudulently sold a few years previously. A few weeks later, police made a shocking announcement. They had identified the owner of the mysterious finger. It had once belonged to Brian Paul Rossiter, an acquaintance of Ayala’s partner, Jaime Plascencia.

ADVERTISEMENT

Apparently, Rossiter had lost the finger during an industrial accident back in December 2004. And somewhat improbably, he had passed the digit on to Ayala in an attempt to settle a pre-existing debt. With the final piece of the puzzle in place, the mom-of-two and Plascencia appeared in court in September 2005.

ADVERTISEMENT

At their trial, the couple admitted that they had planned to falsely file a claim. And shockingly, Alaya received a nine-year sentence, while her partner got 12 years for the scam. At the time, Plascencia’s lawyer, Charles Kramer, suggested that the harsh sentences might have been intended to make an example of the pair.

ADVERTISEMENT

Ultimately, Ayala’s sentence was reduced, and she was freed after serving just four years. Apparently, she moved back to San Jose, where she needed to abide by just one condition – never to set foot in a Wendy’s again. And in March 2010, around a year after her release, she confessed some shocking details in an interview with local station CBS-5.

ADVERTISEMENT

Apparently, Ayala had prepared the severed finger at her home in Las Vegas. She then drove it some eight hours east to the Wendy’s in San Jose. There, she slipped the digit into her chili bowl. And what exactly did she do to get the body part ready for this macabre scam? “I cooked it,” she admitted.

ADVERTISEMENT

In the same interview, Ayala confessed that she had been mocked by both guards and prisoners during her time behind bars – and wanted to put it behind her. However, by June 2013, the woman dubbed Chilli Finger Lady was back in the headlines once more. Apparently, Guadalupe Reyes, her son, had accidentally put a bullet in his ankle after being paroled.

ADVERTISEMENT

At the time, Reyes couldn’t legally own a weapon, so Ayala told the police that two unknown men shot her son. However, Reyes eventually cracked and told the truth – leading to his mother’s arrest. Eventually, she received two years behind bars for the cover-up. According to her social media, she is now free and living back in San Jose, where her local fast food retailers must be hoping that she gives them a wide berth.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT