Northern Arizona University professor Melissa Ann Santana is in big trouble after she was indicted this week on five counts of felony stalking. Even worse, one of the subjects of her alleged obsession was a student at the college where she teaches.
Santana was arrested on Oct. 30, and indicted on Tuesday by a federal grand jury, in addition to the stalking charges, she’s facing three counts of providing false information to law enforcement.
She wasn’t your garden-variety prowler, who hides behind lamp posts and bushes; instead, the professor carried on her pursuits through electronic communications, the Arizona Daily Sun reports.
In addition to the student, Santana is accused of stalking two firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service in Flagstaff, Arizona. In the court documents, the names of the victims are redacted, but they do shed some light on the professor’s not-so-brilliant methods. She met both of the firefighters on Tinder — a dating app with a reputation for helping its more promiscuous users have their cake and eat it too. On the app, she posed as 28-year-old Ann – at the time she was in her mid-thirties.
One of the firefighters told police that he carried on a sexual relationship with the married professor, even doing the no-pants-dance in her office at NAU. But, in late 2016, he broke it off. Another firefighter matched with the interior design professor soon after, but when he talked to his colleague, he learned about Santana’s history and called off their rendezvous.
The firefighters say that she sent them a series of messages ranging from sweet to needy to disturbing; once writing, “Be like the Granite guys and go die in a fire,” which is a reference to a group of Granite Mountain firemen who died in a 2013 fire. She even sent messages to their supervisors, saying that she was pregnant with one of their children and that they needed to call her.
Santana met the student on Craigslist in 2014 and met him in person in 2015. He says that the stalking began almost immediately, telling police he received “harassing phone calls from various unknown numbers, emails and posts on his personal Facebook page.” He also says that she attacked his reputation by spreading rumors that he had sexually transmitted diseases, the Daily Courier reports.
Court documents even state that the student claims one of his friends was fired after a woman going by the name Amanda Foster sent a series of emails and posts claiming that his friend was a thief. By lining up the IP addresses from the activity, police were able to figure out that Foster is actually Santana.
Judge Charles Pyle ordered that Santana not be released, saying that her history of using multiple aliases poses a flight risk and that she is a danger to the public. Court documents also state that she may face a maximum of 40 years if convicted.
A University spokesperson told the Daily Sun that “the university does not comment on what appears to be an ongoing criminal matter,” but confirmed that Santana was dismissed on Nov. 1, two days after her arrest.