A former Northern Arizona University professor was arrested Oct. 30 and indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on five counts of felony stalking – one involving a student — and three counts of giving false information to law enforcement.
Melissa Ann Santana, 36, who worked as an associate professor of interior design, is accused of habitually stalking and harassing two firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service hotshot crew in Flagstaff, the wife of one of the firefighters, one of their friends, and an NAU student.
The stalking occurred from February 2015 to September 2017 and was largely committed through electronic communication, according to U.S. District Court documents. Santana committed the offenses using “many different identities, email addresses, social media accounts and temporary telephone numbers.”
The names of the victims are redacted in the report.
Santana was arrested on the NAU campus on Oct. 30 by United States Forest Service law officers. NAU spokeswoman Kimberly Ott said on Monday that Santana was no longer employed at the university but would not comment on her arrest.
“The university does not comment on what appears to be an ongoing criminal matter,” Ott said.
Aliases and false statements
Santana met both firefighters through the online dating app Tinder. She met the first firefighter, labeled as N.L. in court documents, in November 2015, where she used the online alias “Ann, 29” according to court documents.
N.L. told law enforcement that he had a sexual relationship with the married professor, meeting mostly in her NAU office and his house, until June 2016, when he ended the relationship.
The second firefighter, labeled as K.T. in court documents, was matched on Tinder with Santana, also under the alias “Ann, 29” in August 2016 and told her he wanted to meet in September 2016. He told law enforcement that he quickly learned that it was the same person who was harassing his coworker.
Both men received harassing messages from Santana under multiple false names such as “Laura Towner” and “Kendall Patterson,” according to court documents.
The messages ranged from sentimental, such as a text to N.L. that said “I miss you so much,” to malicious, with Santana telling K.T. to “be like the Granite guys and go die in a fire,” referring to the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who died in the Yarnell Hill Fire in 2013.
She later sent a message to K.T’s fiancé, under the alias “Kelli Torrence,” claiming that she was having a sexual relationship with K.T., records showed.