Melissa Neylon of Fresno was taking a tour of Inyo County Jail (ICJ) for her job in December and consented to a Live Scan, or fingerprint test, which is standard operating procedure. The test identified Neylon as a known fugitive, Melissa Chapman of Indiana, and Neylon was taken into custody by the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department.
Neylon appeared in Inyo County Superior Court on December 18 and was accused of being a fugitive of justice and posted $50,000 bail.
Carma Roper, Public Information Officer for Inyo County Sheriff’s Department, had two public statements about the case. The Live Scan was performed twice and matched against the entire Department of Justice database, concluding that Neylon’s prints matched those of Chapman. The Department of Justice told The Sheet warrants are not based on fingerprints.
Inyo Sheriffs’ have received a hardcopy of Chapman’s prints but did not comment if the two were a match. But new information might keep Neylon from having to go back to court.
The prosecuting attorney in Deerborn County, Indiana, where Chapman was wanted, has conducted the hardcopy comparison and found no match, according to Veronica Miracle, reporter for ABC30 Action News of Fresno, who has been following the story since it broke. Miracle said Deerborn has advised Inyo to drop any charges.
Miracle said she tracked down Melissa Chapman’s mother, who verified that Chapman had died in 2013. Inyo said it wants to confirm Chapman’s death before it drops the charges.
Miracle told The Sheet that an executive producer at Action News knew the Neylons and that got the story rolling.
Chapman has been on the loose since 2002, the same year Neylon was working in San Jose, complete with time cards. Chapman also gave up a baby for adoption, but Neylon had a tubal ligation in 1999.
“You don’t believe it because it seems like it’s a TV show. And [you think] well, it’s never going to happen to me … [But] here it is happening,” Shawn Neylon, Melissa’s wife, told Miracle.
According to Miracle, the Neylons plan on filing suit against Inyo County.
Shawn Neylon answered calls from The Sheet but advised talking to Melissa, who never called back.
Mono County reviews TOT, TBID
Mono County Supervisors heard an update and review of Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) and Tourism Business Improvement Districts (TBID) from Jeff Simpson, Mono County Economic Assistant. The Supervisors said it was update only, not a precursor to raising the tax rates.
The money goes toward tourism and marketing of the area and pays for things like Visit Mammoth and all of its employees. The TBID itself is controversial, but with supporters on both sides of the Supervisor’s aisle.
Bill Bramlette, owner of Benton Hot Springs, said he understands the tax and what it goes toward. However, he said that he is not in Mammoth, and was hoping the Supervisors would consider ways to “more fairly apply” the tax to everyone who benefits, not the current “one size fits all.’” His other concern, and one shared by Supervisor Fred Stump, was the high administrative costs of handling TBIDs, which are required to be filtered through a non-profit organization. Stump added that there’s no oversight of a non-profit and it can do what it wants “with impunity.”
Bramlette claimed he hasn’t raised his rates in 10 to 12 years, but what he charges customers keeps going up with added taxes.
Supervisor Larry Johnston said the current rates have produced the most successful campaigns to date. “How much more do we need?” he wondered.
Tim Fesko, Supervisor and owner of Meadowcliff Lodge, wanted clarification from Bramlette about why the taxes are affecting his bottom line when it’s the consumer that has to pay.
Bramlette told Fesko that as a fellow lodger, he should know that at some point, the price becomes too high for customers and can then have a bottom line effect. He said in his case, if the price keeps going up, “It will definitely drive away customers.”
Fesko asked Bramlette if he quotes the total price or just his price to consumers. Bramlette said he quotes the entire price, as it seemed “fairer” to tell people what the total cost would be.
“That’s part of the problem to start with,” Fesko said.
Fesko appeared to be in favor of an increase in TBID; he said a 1-percent increase would generate an extra $200,000 in advertising to increase visitation.