Police: Acid attack woman wanted to kill self, or get new face

Police: Acid attack woman wanted to kill self, or get new face
Bethany Storro, who was a victim of a random attack near Esther Short Park earlier in the week, is flanked by her parents Nancy and Joe Neuwelt, during a news conference at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland, Ore. on Thursday Sept. 2, 2010. (The Columbian/Zachary Kaufman)
VANCOUVER, Wash. - The woman who admitted to burning her own face with acid told investigators she wanted to either kill herself or get plastic surgery on her face.

"When I realized it wasn't killing me, I thought maybe this was the answer to all my problems," Bethany Storro told investigators. "I thought there would be no evidence of me doing it to myself. And then you guys -- I thought that you guys would give up on trying to find the person and it would be done."

Storro, who admitted to having fabricated the story of a woman throwing acid on her face last month, has been charged with three counts of second-degree theft.

The charges deal with the donations made to Storro after word of her bogus attack spread. The counts could be given "aggravating circumstances" consideration as the alleged crimes were committed against good Samaritans, said Clark County Deputy Prosecutor Tony Golik.

Anytime Fitness in Vancouver had raised $800 for Storro, Kite had made a private donation of $1,000, and Safeway had given her a check for $3,000, the statement said.

Storro said she used about half of the money from Safeway and "purchased dinners for her parents, a train ticket for her sister, 'stuff at Target,' clothes for herself, round train trip tickets for she and her mother to go to Seattle ... And pay off most of the bill at the office where her August 2010 laser facial peel was done, which amounted to $620," the document said.Investigators learned Storro had had a chemical peel about two weeks before the alleged attack.

Riverview Savings Bank, which held a golf fundraiser for Storro, had collected some $20,000 in donations, the document said, and Umpqua Bank set up a fund under Storro's mother's name that had gathered $4,596. However, it does not appear Storro had access to these funds.

Golik said a warrant for Bethany Storro's arrest has been issued, and Storro will be arrested once she is discharged from a local hospital where she is currently receiving treatment.

According to the statement of probable cause, Storro confessed to burning her face with drain cleaner. She applied the acid using gloves and a towel in a park restroom near Clark College several hours before she claimed she was attacked.

Storro initially said the woman approached her and said something like, "Hey, pretty girl," before throwing the acid on her face.

However, one investigator who visited Storro in the hospital after the alleged attack noted "the burning went around her face, but was not in her hair, eyes lips or ears ... Whatever substance had been on contact with her facial skin seemed to have been applied to Storro's face, rather than having been splashed onto her face," the statement said.

Storro had claimed she was wearing sunglasses at the time of the attack, which saved her eyes from suffering chemical burns. However, the same investigator wrote,"There appeared burning about the temple regions of the head where possibly the arms of the sunglasses would have possibly protected, or covered, her skin at the time of the alleged assault."

The officer added "the sunglasses which Storro allegedly wore at the time of the assault were never located, nor could any evidence at the scene of the alleged attack to corroborate Storro's claims, the statement said.

The physician who treated Storro at Legacy Emanuel Hospital's burn unit also had suspicions about the origin of Storro's injuries, according to the document. And investigators said Storro's injuries did not resemble those of the acid victims in Puyallup and Mesa, Ariz.

After finding "several discrepancies," police served search warrant of Storro's parents' home where she was staying. During a subsequent interview, police said Storro admitted to having thrown the acid herself.

Storro's parents, Jim and Nancy Neuwelt, apologized on her behalf on Friday.

"We are deeply sorry for what happened," Jim Neuwelt said during a news conference.

Storro's parents vowed to return all of the money collected on Storro's behalf.

Nancy Neuwelt said there was no indications their daughter would do something like this and they didn't know why.

"It is our hope the medical community can find the answers, and she's obviously dealing with some deep internal emotional and psychological problems we had no knowledge of. We hope she gets the help she needs," she said.

Storro began counseling on Friday, according to a family friend.