Catching up with the crazy case of Hadley vs. Diaz.


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Michelle Hadley – Deputy Marshall Ian Diaz – Angela Connell Diaz

How the hell did I miss this story?  (Maybe you did too, but it’s not over!)  It’s got everything –

  • Anaheim Police malfeasance in the form of four bumbling “detectives.” 
  • Another Rackauckas miscarriage of justice! 
  • A creepy federal Marshall resembling a cross between two horrible Orange is the New Black guards – Mendez and Humphrey
  • Dating sites, Craigslist, and false imprisonment! 
  • Over-the-top biblical-tinged death threats! 
  • Sex, weirder violent sex, and “catfishing.” 

And the Orange Juice Blog will be there covering the next hearing, Oct. 21 in Judge Carter’s courtroom, in what is now “Michelle Hadley vs. City of Anaheim, Ian Diaz, Angela Diaz, and (Anaheim Detectives) James Pewsey, William Segletes, Michael Lee, and Michael Cunha.”

If you have fifteen minutes, this is a great Buzzfeed story giving all the background.  But I’ll see if I can summarize it here:

2013-15

Self-described goody-two-shoes Michelle, 26, hooks up with Deputy Marshall Ian, 35, on a dating website, and they really hit it off, moving in together after half a year.   But Ian quickly becomes more controlling and possessive – first insisting that she wear “sexy clothes” and pierce her belly button, and even forcing her to take, at a huge pay cut, a job at his previous employer and “favorite place,” the *gasp* Disneyland Resort – apparently the better to keep an eye on her.  (Was he a Disney cop in the past?  Sounds possible.) 

Ian spies on her computer, and he apparently has GPS on her as any time she drives a certain distance from home, work, or school he quickly calls to ask what she’s up to.  Then it gets worse – he starts to insist she have sex with strange men while he watches and films.  Worn down with Ian’s demands, on top of meds and booze, Michelle finally gives in to his fantasy on a Valentine’s Day of all things, with a dude Ian found on Craigslist.  The next day she regrets it all and begs him to destroy the tape, but he responds, “Nobody put a gun to your head!” 

Still, rather than leave him she instead puts down a $14,400 down payment on a 2-story Anaheim condo, where they live together for three months until his abusive and paranoid behavior becomes intolerable and she leaves in September of 2015.  Immediately e-mail fights over responsibility for the condo commence, as he flings wild accusations of infidelity at her.  She keeps seeing his SUV parked near her school, Chapman University, and security bans Ian from the campus. At one point early on during their e-mail fights over the condo, she lets loose with this bizarre (and unfortunately easy to imitate) language:

“Your sins are many, including defiling me and my family with your wicked and evil sexual acts, your financial coercion and irresponsibility, your gluttony, your greed, your lust, your sloth, your wrath, your envy, and most of all your pride. … I will bring the full force of the Law and the Word of God against you to judge you.”

Eventually they come to an agreement (never fulfilled) for Ian to take over the condo payments in mid-2016.  Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Michelle, Ian hooks up with ANOTHER woman on a dating website, the pregnant Angela Connell, who moves into the condo and marries him, becoming ANGELA DIAZ.

2016

Poor Angela!  Her time with Ian was a nightmare of scary, threatening e-mails  – at times death threats, at times with photos of beaten and strangled women – from addresses resembling Michelle Hadley’s.  They said things like, “I hope you are scared to death tomorrow. Be prepared. Don’t sleep”; “We will steal your child and we will watch as it dies”; “YOU ARE A PIECE OF SHIT AND I HOPE TO GOD YOU BURN FOR WHAT YOU HAVE DONE TO US.”;  “There is no place you will be safe anymore.“;  “You might be beautiful, you might be the one he married but you are still a sinner and must be punished. I will make sure you are reminded of your place, by force.”;  “I know you are leaving work. I watch as you walk, let’s play a game!”;  and notably, in apparent imitation of Michelle’s real e-mail above:

“There are legends that Adam had a wife before Eve who was named Lilith, but this is not found in the Bible. The legends vary significantly, but they all essentially agree that Lilith left Adam because she did not want to submit to him. According to the legends, Lilith was an evil, wicked woman who committed adultery with Satan and produced a race of evil creatures.  …  I hope you are scared of death tomorrow. Be prepared. Don’t sleep, be watchful of the Daughters of God. We will steal your child and we will watch as it dies. (He) is using you for everything. Don’t you see this? He is obsessed with me, I am his treasure princess, you are nothing. Watch your back tomorrow.”

Around the same time (June 2016) a “Lilith Hadley” posted a Craigslist ad asking for a “rape fantasy partner” to come attack her while she was out walking her dog – providing Angela’s address and urging the attacker not to be discouraged even if she screams and resists.  On June 24 Angela called 911 to report that she’d been attacked in her garage by a strange man responding to the ad.

You may have guessed by now that Michelle had no idea any of this was happening, although she did have suspicions somebody was messing with her e-mail accounts, trying to attach other accounts to it as well as Craigslist activity she knew nothing about.  But when she complained to Craigslist or the Anaheim Police (as she suspected this to be more Ian harassment) she was ignored.

Not so Deputy Marhsall Ian’s complaints:  “Is there any way we can get this girl in cuffs TONIGHT?” he begged responding APD at the (faked) attempted rape scene… and they complied, as a baffled Michelle Hadley was arrested at her new Ontario home, and ended up staying 88 hellish days in OC Jail, held in her cell 23 hours a day as a “sex offender” at $1 million bail.

Anaheim Keystone Kops

2017 Detective of the Year Pewsey

The four Anaheim Detectives on the case (Michael Cunha, William Segletes, Michael Lee, and James Pewsey, the latter of whom was later awarded 2017’s “Detective of the Year”) were much less impressed by Michelle’s protestations of innocence than they were by the similarities between the two biblical-batty e-mails above, one of which was admittedly by Michelle.   But in Moxley’s paraphrase all the charges against her were “’sloppy’ and ‘false evidence’ that boneheaded Anaheim detectives could have exposed with basic sleuthing skills.” 

The “attempted rape” scene was faked, and video of that area showed NO activity that night (something Cunha didn’t bother checking.)  Most of the e-mails were, without too much difficulty, traced back to the Diaz’ Anaheim condo, Angela’s cellphone, and Angela’s father’s home.  And frequently they’d been sent at times that Michelle had no access to her accounts or devices – such as during a brief time between her first and second arrest when the e-mails started up again, but the police had kept her laptop, phone and tablet.  When Michelle was finally released, it was only because Ian suddenly decided to blame it all on Angela instead – and once again, Anaheim and the OCDA took the Marshall at his word.  So Michelle went free and Angela got five years, and Ian’s never been questioned since.

This is why the City of Anaheim is named, along with the four “detectives” Pelsey, Cunha, Segletes and Lee, in Michelle’s 2017 federal lawsuit which is before Judge Carter this month.  Her complaint contends that “At its heart, this is a case about the ‘blue wall of silence'” – or as Michelle told Buzzfeed, “A bunch of cops were just looking out for each other.”

Throwing Angela Under the Bus

When Ian turned in Angela, he was furious with her for crazy stuff like faking pregnancies and cervical cancer, and preparing to divorce her.  But now as Angela serves out her five-year term for false reports and framing Michelle, it’s hard for many of us to believe that Deputy Marshall Ian wasn’t the mastermind behind it all, and that now he’s enjoying the over-presumption of innocence cops so frequently get, while framing and jailing his second female victim.

Most comically, Ian’s own cell phone was never inspected because he told investigators he’d “given it to his Mom,” and she moved to Idaho.  Angela’s lawyer Allison Margolin told The Daily Beast that “it’s not as obvious as people would have us believe as to who is responsible for this… it was more convenient for the prosecution to wrapt this up as an Angela-only scenario than to pursue more with the marshals.”

That Daily Beast article lists many reasons to be suspicious of Ian, whose work as a criminal investigator for the US Marshals Service gives him “expertise in setting up fake accounts and sting operations,” and the use of virtual private networks to conceal your IP address.  We KNOW he’s conversant in the use of Craigslist to set up sexual encounters.  Some of the fake e-mail accounts used to “harass Angela” do NOT trace back to Angela.  Ian has acknowledged having “an app called Hotspot Shield on his phone, which can hide IP addresses.” Also, records show that someone logged into one of the phony accounts at the couple’s condo on May 24 and May 26, 2016, while Angela was in Arizona for her grandpa’s funeral.

All this and more makes us suspicious that Ian was at least as much to blame for the framing of Michelle as Angela was.  But the incompetent incuriosity, the taking-another-cop-at-his-word, of the four Anaheim detectives are both what fuel that suspicion and what should also have exonerated Michelle beforehand.  We hope the outcome of Michelle’s lawsuit settles all the many questions we have, and that she also gets some justice for her hellish and bizarre persecution, from which she’s still trying to recover.  

We’ll be there on the 21st!

Michelle leaves North Court with her lawyer and dad, exonerated.


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.