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Man who went missing and his fiancee held on burglary charges

November 25, 2013|By Hector Becerra
  • About a week after Darwin Vela was reported missing and later found, he was arrested on suspicion of burglary.
About a week after Darwin Vela was reported missing and later found, he was… (Kelly P. McLaren )

About a week after a man disappeared and later turned up claiming to have been abducted while walking his dog and held prisoner, he and his fiancee were arrested Monday on suspicion of burglarizing the home of Nicolas Cage's former girlfriend.

Darwin Vela, 22, and Kelly McLaren, 24, were arrested in Inglewood and jailed on $50,000 bail each, said LAPD Sgt. Cleon Joseph. They are suspected of breaking into the home of Christina Fulton in August, along with a man named Ricardo Orozco.

Vela and McLaren were initially set to testify against Orozco for the alleged burglary, but Vela disappeared last week while taking his chocolate Labrador for a walk in the West Adams District. Vela's fiancee reportedly found the dog whimpering and with blood on its leash.

Vela disappeared just before he was to take the stand Thursday. On Friday, he turned up on the Westside, where he flagged down a motorist who alerted police.

LAPD Lt. Julian Melendez said Vela told investigators he had been abducted and held for three days. He suffered some injuries and was treated by paramedics.

Among the items stolen from the movie star's ex-girlfriend's home were computers. Prosecutors confirmed that the couple were to be key witnesses against Orozco.

Last week, McLaren said she and Vela witnessed the break-in.

"Without us, there isn't a case," she said.

McLaren took the stand Thursday but invoked her 5th Amendment right not to testify, according to district attorney's spokeswoman Jane Robison. But a police detective took the stand and discussed an encounter involving Orozco, Vela, McLaren and an attorney who has represented actor Charlie Sheen.

The detective said that before the break-in, the trio met with the attorney and told him they knew of a sex tape involving Sheen, Robison said. They said they did not have the tape, the detective testified, and the attorney told them he would talk only to someone who had it.

Robison said the alleged sex tape has not turned up, and officials question whether it even exists.

McLaren had said the search for Vela began last Tuesday night when she found the couple's dog, alone and "cowering," outside their home.

"When I came out, I heard the dog crying," she said. "He was outside alone and Darwin wasn't there."

Officers searched the neighborhood but found no sign of Vela, though his wallet, keys and cellphone were left behind, McLaren said.

On Monday, as the situation for the couple soured even more, McLaren posted a message on her Facebook page expressing gratitude for having her fiancee back, but dismay with the media.

"I am truly disappointed and saddened that the media, which had been so helpful," she wrote, "has decided that twisting a victim's story for their own resolve is acceptable when it is only shameful."

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Twitter: @hbecerraLATimes 

hector.becerra@latimes.com

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