Authorities in Florida have filed charges against a couple for allegedly shooting themselves during what investigators suspect was actually a fake home invasion staged last month as part of a scheme to get money from their property manager, PEOPLE confirms.
Doug Teixeira, 35, and his 36-year-old wife, Lindsey Pelton, were each charged with providing false information to law enforcement, according to a statement from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. Teixeira is additionally charged with evidence tampering.
The couple was taken into custody on Tuesday, but neither has appeared in court to enter a plea. They have not retained legal counsel who could comment on their behalf and efforts to reach them directly were not successful.
They were released from jail after posting bail.
A statement from the sheriff’s office alleges that Pelton and Teixeira initially told investigators they were shot by two armed men who slipped into their Deltona, Florida, rental home through an unlocked door. Teixiera said a safe in the home, containing about $7,000, was stolen.
But detectives were immediately suspicious of the story, which they say crumbled under further scrutiny.
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The couple allegedly told authorities that two men entered their home just after 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 26, while their kids were at school. According to the sheriff’s office, Teixeira and Pelton spoke briefly to the purported assailants before being shot in the leg and arm, respectively.
The bullet shattered a bone in Pelton’s arm.
Investigators started searching for the armed men, who they were told had fled in an unknown car. But the search was called off after authorities detected the smell of bleach in the home.
While searching the residence, authorities also found dried blood in the home and garage.
“If this incident just occurred and they called police right away, why would you have dried blood and why do we have bleach all over the house?” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said during an interview with the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
“And we found a .22-caliber gun hidden where when they were confronted, they said, ‘Well, oh yeah yeah, the home invaders didn’t bring their own gun, they got ahold of our gun,’ ” Chitwood continued.
He alleges that Pelton shot herself in the lower left forearm. Teixeira had a bullet enter the rear of his left calf and exit the front of the muscle.
The couple was taken to Central Florida Regional Hospital where they were treated for their wounds.
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The couple hired a personal-injury law firm after being released from the hospital, according to the sheriff’s office.
“They shot themselves for the purpose of committing … fraud,” Sheriff Chitwood told the News-Journal. “They were going to sue the homeowner to collect money.”
Investigators allege the couple’s story contained several inconsistencies.
“The defendants’ stories changed multiple times, including an account that the shooting was accidental and that Teixeira had disposed of the gun,” the sheriff’s office statement reads. “But it was clear that no home invasion happened.
“Based on the evidence gathered and interviews conducted during the investigation, detectives believe money was the motivation for Teixeira’s and Pelton’s elaborate, fabricated account of the home invasion, and that they hoped to recover a cash settlement from the property management company that manages their home.”
The statement adds that “the claim of several thousands of dollars missing from a phantom safe was also determined to be unfounded.”