An arrest warrant was issued on Wednesday for a former Northern Arizona University teacher after she failed to appear in court. Melissa Santana, 36, is accused of stalking U.S. Forest Service firefighters and a student.
The warrant against Santana was filed in Coconino County Superior Court, meaning that the former associate professor of interior design is also facing state charges; these charges are in addition to the five counts of felony stalking brought forth by the U.S. District Court based on charges by the U.S. Forest Service.
Coconino County Superior Court Clerk, Valerie Wyant did not disclose the new charges, stating they were not public record until Santana was served; however, the Flagstaff Police stated in a public announcement on Facebook that the outstanding warrant was related to stalking charges.
Santana is currently being held in the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence while she awaits a federal trial date on March 6, in Prescott, making it impossible for her to attend a court hearing in Flagstaff, according to her attorney D. Stephen Wallin.
Wyant said that the warrant was issued only as a means to alert the U.S District Court of Arizona to the fact that Santana is also facing a county court date.
“It is not that the court wouldn’t be aware that she is in custody,” Wyant said. “We put a warrant out to alert other agencies that we have a warrant on hold. So when her current case concludes than this warrant will go into effect.”
However, the Flagstaff Police Department’s Facebook notice of the warrant stated that the department was looking for Santana and did not mention if police knew she was already in custody.
Flagstaff Police Sgt. Cory Runge said the department did issued a public notice on the warrant because it was active.
Santana 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.”
She has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
United States Magistrate Judge Charles R. Pyle ordered that Santana be detained, according to court documents. He denied her release on the grounds that she was a danger to the public and at flight risk due to her use of multiple aliases over three years.