After finding the body of Todd Chance in an almond field with two gunshot wounds to his chest, his wife, Leslie Jenea Chance – a popular elementary-school principal in Bakersfield, Calif. – told investigators he had driven that morning to attend a gun show, court documents show.
Later that day, a black, 2011 Ford Mustang owned by Todd, 45, turned up in a southwest Bakersfield neighborhood. Under a floor mat, detectives found a .38-caliber revolver containing two spent shell casings, according to search-warrant documents obtained by PEOPLE.
After also hearing from witnesses who claimed they saw a white woman walking away from the car, the detectives developed a theory of what happened that morning.
“We believe Todd Chance was shot inside his vehicle,” wrote investigators, who, four days later, arrested Leslie, 46, on suspicion of murder.
But the following week, on the day Leslie was due to be arraigned, the district attorney declined to file charges and set her free.
The cops even gave the her back the Mustang.
Officials at both law-enforcement agencies tell PEOPLE that Leslie is still their prime suspect – they just need to do more investigating. Her attorney, Kyle Humphrey, maintains that his client is “adamant about her innocence” and is fully cooperating with the investigation.
The warrants don’t explain how detectives are trying to build their case against Leslie, who is on paid administrative leave from her position as principal at Fairview Elementary School in Bakersfield. But the papers provide chilling new details about the crime.
On Aug. 25, sheriff’s deputies were dispatched at 9:27 a.m. to the orchard 15 miles west of Bakersfield, which is about a 25-minute drive from the Chance household.
Field workers said the body must have been dumped after they last drove through that area at 7:30 a.m. The warrant documents say detectives found a wireless phone 40 feet from the body, although the documents don’t say whose phone it was or how it got there.
When detectives found the Mustang, they collected a “possible blood sample,” dirt samples, a front-seat floor mat and swab samples, says a follow-up document to the request for a warrant.
Inside the vehicle, detectives also reportedly found a car key, a note and a pink towel under the driver’s seat, as well as another note in the trunk. Police documents, however, do not indicate what the notes said or whether they are being used are evidence in the case.
On Sept. 11, detectives took a DNA swab and fingerprint samples from Leslie, according to the Bakersfield Californian.