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‘Go die in the fire’: Asst. professor charged with campaign of online terror against 3 fire fighters and a student

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The superintendent of the Flagstaff Interagency Hotshot Crew received an email in September from a woman detailing disturbing allegations against members of an elite corp of firefighters deployed by the Forest Service and National Park Service to battle wildfires.

The troubling email came the same day the Flagstaff crew was alerted to assist with the Soberanes Fire, in Monterey County, California, The Washington Post reported.

“I am disgusted by the behavior of your hotshot crew when they passed through my town,” the email stated, according to The Post. “Several weeks ago your guys were on the way to a fire in Wyoming.

“I intercepted messages between your crew members and my UNDERAGE 15 year old daughter. She won’t tell me which website they met on but I did read that they invited her back to their hotel, gave her alcohol and had sex with her. This is statutory rape and I want these men charged.”

Needless to say, the elite crew was not dispatched to assist with the fire that burned 57 homes and killed a bulldozer operator.

But it turns out the allegation was a false complaint and the woman, Cathy McCarthy, didn’t exist, according to Sophia Fong, a special agent with the U.S. Forest Service.

Even more troubling, according to a criminal affidavit filed, “both the name and email were part of a bizarre skein of threats, fake names and social media accounts allegedly controlled by Melissa Ann Santana, a married, 36-year-old on the interior-design faculty at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz.,” The Post reported.

SG Santana (2)
Screen grab: Former NAU Assistant Professor Melissa Santana

Not only was Santana an assistant professor, but she was allegedly responsible for a campaign of terror against a number of people, including three firefighters AND even a student at the school.

More from The Post:

The professor was arrested on Oct. 30 at the NAU campus on federal charges of stalking and making false statements. Federal prosecutors said Santana unleashed a merciless campaign of harassment and intimidation against at least six individuals, including three firefighters, their family members, and even a NAU student. She allegedly wielded as many as 19 fake social media accounts. The harassment reached such a fever pitch her alleged victims were not just deactivating their social media accounts but buying guns for protection and hiring extra security for a wedding.

The investigation shows the three members of wildfire crews met Santana via Tinder, a dating app. In all three cases, she would resort to vile tactics of harassment when the relationships didn’t pan out as expected, according to the criminal complaint.

Details of her relationship with one of the men was reported by The Post:

N.L., a member of the Flagstaff crew, admitted to recently ending a sexual relationship with Santana. The two were matched on Tinder in November 2015. Santana used the name ”Ann” and stated she was “looking for friends for daytime fun.” They began exchanging messages and meeting up. N.L., however, “became increasingly uncomfortable with the relationship and ended it in June, 2016,” the affidavit said. Santana, however, “did not react well to the termination of the relationship,” and continued to message the firefighter.

That same month, N.L. was matched with another “Ann” on Twitter who was later determined to be Santana. She became insulting, telling N.L. “why not be like the granite mountain hotshots and go die in the fire, like the other dumba– losers there,” in reference to the 19 members of a firefighter crew killed in 2013.

If wishing death by fire isn’t despicable enough, the former professor — NAU says she no longer works at the university — is suspected of posting a vile message on the Instagram account of the wife of another man she met online after the woman had a miscarriage.

“I’m so happy your wife’s disgusting body aborted that bastard child. You two are so superficial that you got exactly what you deserve. A dead baby,” the message stated.

The one bright spot in the story is the alleged lunatic is in federal custody and off the streets.

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Tom Tillison

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