SANDUSKY, OH March 13 2017
A Sandusky couple have been accused of staging a murder scene in a bath tub using ketchup. They're also accused of sending pictures of the wife covered in ketchup to their friends, with the man claiming he killed her.
Officers showed up to their home Thursday night after three people, who were described as hysterical, called police. The officers soon discovered the scene in the pair's tub had been staged.
Nataleigh Schlette and Micah Risner have been charged with inducing panic, and both pleaded not guilty Friday.
Risner sent several texts with photos of the fake crime scene to family members and friends, like this one: "I'm free. I feel so f***ing free."
The person who got the message responded: "You're gonna go to jail Micah."
Someone else replied to his messages with this: "Delete all your messages now. DELETE EVERYTHING."
But a family member stepped up and called police -- and she didn't think it was very funny.
“He sent one pic of her in the bathtub, blood is everywhere,” she told a 911 operator in tears.
Sgt. Dawn Allen responded that night with her gun drawn.
“As I was clearing the house, a woman and three children came downstairs and she, right away, said it was a joke,” Allen said. “I was not happy. It was very intense, a call like that. And then to find out it was a joke was not funny at all."
Allen said the bathroom had been scrubbed clean by the time they got there, and it looked like the woman had just taken a shower. She said the children in the house weren't even theirs.
Allen said it's a call she'll never forget.
“It was crazy, crazy. It was intense, scary," she said. "You don’t want to have to go in and really truly find something like that. But for it to be a joke, and someone to truly think that was funny, um wow."
Cleveland 19 reporter Sara Goldenberg confronted Schlette and Risner on Friday, to get their side of the story. Below is a transcript of that conversation.
CLEVELAND 19: Hi, can we talk to you guys?
RISNER: No, no reporters.
CLEVELAND19: What were you thinking when you did this?
RISNER: I have no idea what you're talking about.
CLEVELAND19: Police didn't think it was a joke. Is there anything you'd like to say?
RISNER: I'm gonna call the police, get off my property.
CLEVELAND19, to Schlette: Can I talk to you?
SCHLETTE: No comment right now, lawyer says I can't say anything.