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Stupid Case File for April 23, 2005

Woman Arrested in Wendy's Chili Finger Case

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LOS ANGELES- A woman who said she found part of a human finger in a bowl of Wendy's chili last month has been arrested and charged with larceny in connection with the incident, authorities said on Friday.

Anna Ayala, 39, was arrested on Thursday night at her home in Las Vegas and was in custody in the Clark County Detention Center there, police officials said.

Ayala had said she found the finger in chili prepared at a Wendy's restaurant in San Jose, California on March 22. The charge drew intense publicity and shook the image of the No. 3 U.S. hamburger chain.

Wendy's International Inc., was "thrilled that an arrest has been made," Tom Mueller, president of the company's North American business, said in a statement.

The larceny charge, which originated in San Jose, was related to the finger incident, but the origin of the finger was still unknown, said San Jose police department spokesman Nick Muyo.

More information would be given at a 1 p.m. (2000 GMT) press conference in San Jose, he said.

Wendy's had offered a $100,000 reward for information about the origin of the finger. Officials could not immediately be reached to say whether the reward would be paid.

Wendy's has said sales fell significantly in the San Jose area following the incident, causing some franchisees to lay off staff or reduce workers' hours.

The chain has said repeatedly that its own investigation into the matter found no evidence of any finger or hand accidents among any of its workers or its suppliers.

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