FRESNO, CA -- A Fresno, California, mother has been sitting in jail for weeks and on the verge of being extradited. This after she said she was mistaken for a criminal and arrested. The life-insurance agent was getting a tour of the Inyo County jail when deputies arrested her for an outstanding warrant.
Melissa Neylon could be the victim of mistaken identity. And in an exclusive interview she gave ABC30 from jail, she's trying to prove her innocence before it's too late.
Shawn Neylon is carrying his wife's picture. Not just to remember her face but to prove who she is. "You don't believe it because it seems like it's a TV show. And well it's never going to happen to me, I'm sure you've heard that a lot. Here it is happening," said Neylon.
His wife Melissa went to the Inyo County jail for work. She went through security and was flagged as a wanted felon. Her fingerprints-- deputies told her-- were an identical match to another woman, Melissa Chapman. Now Neylon is finding every record he can that he says undoubtedly proves his wife isn't a criminal.
And as he fights on the outside, Melissa said she's fighting on the inside. "My reputation is on the line, my career, my kids, my livelihood. My kids have to see this how do you think they're going to feel I'm mortified for them. I'm mortified for my husband and him having to deal with this," said Melissa.
The Inyo County District Attorney's Office couldn't comment on the case because it's still pending. But they did tell us if Neylon can't prove she's not Chapman, she'll be extradited to Indiana.
Public records show Chapman has been on the run since 2002. She's wanted for identity theft and gave up a baby for adoption the same year, under a stolen name. Her last known address was in Cincinnati. That year Melissa was working in San Jose, and even has timecards signed by a manager to prove it. And that baby Chapman had? Well, that would be tough for Melissa because her tubes were tied in 1999. "It feels you're climbing almost an endless mountain of trying to prove someone's innocence and just not being listened to," said Shawn Neylon.
A judge will listen to their side this Friday and he'll decide whether pictures and words are worth more than a fingerprint.
The Neylons say no matter what happens on Friday, they'll continue to fight. And after all is said and done, they plan on filing a lawsuit for what they say is a wrongful arrest.
California woman says she was mistaken for a criminal and arrested
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