Jeanne Mundango Manunga was a woman scorned. That should have been the first clue, but apparently no one bothered to give it much thought. Instead, the police focused on her complaint.
Deputy District Attorney Mena Guirguis said that after Manunga and her former boyfriend stopped dating in 2008, she took out a pre-paid cell phone in his sister-in-law’s name, and started sending the threatening text messages to her regular cell phone.
Manunga then went to three different police departments on at least 19 occasions and claimed that the ex-boyfriend and the sister-in-law were behind the threats.
Manunga apparently sent hundreds of threatening and harassing text messages. To herself. And it worked.
They were arrested on false charges of making criminal threats and required to post thousands of dollars in bail. The sister-in-law was arrested three times, and spent some time in custody before she could gather enough funds to pay the bail on her third arrest.
Consider the scenario. The ex-boyfriend and sister-in-law, obviously aware that they weren’t sending text messages, complain that they are being falsely accused. The whole courtroom erupts into laughter as the judge sets bail. What could possibly go wrong here?
Her scheme was uncovered when the victims went to the phone store, talked with the salesman and learned that Manunga had bought the pre-paid phone under the sister-in-law’s name, Guirguis said.
They reported that information to a Costa Mesa police detective, but by then a third arrest warrant had been issued for the sister-in-law.
During a follow-up investigation, the detective discovered that most of the threatening text messages were sent when the pre-paid cell phone was in close proximity to Manunga’s home or work, Guirguis said.
Notice that it was left to the defendants to investigate? That’s because the police already had their perps in custody. They were high-fiving, munching stale donuts and praising each other’s brilliant detective work. Woo hoo, nailed them text message harassers. Time to hand out the medals. Even after the defendants’ investigation panned out, they were taken in on the open warrant, forced to await the “follow-up investigation.” Of course, there can’t be a follow-up until there’s an initial investigation. Details.
The only problem, apparently, is that their victim was the criminal. That doesn’t mean they won’t get medals, fortunately.
Not everybody is Mel Gibson. Not every woman who claims to be the victim of threats and harassment is telling the truth. Not every male is a manipulative nutjob. After years of neglecting domestic violence, the pendulum has swung too far the other way. Yes, it happens. No, not always. And no, the woman isn’t always right.
The most painful part of this story is how a scheme by a woman scorned was subject to no scrutiny whatsoever, and resulted in a man and woman being detained to sate the “victim’s” need for vengeance. Crazy stuff happens. It wouldn’t kill anybody in the system to do that little bit of legwork that would reveal the purported victim to be the criminal.
It really can’t be this easy for someone to hatch a scheme and use the machinery of the legal system to her own advantage.