Northwest Bakersfield

School principal accused husband's murder: 'She acted alone'

School principal accused husband's murder: 'She acted alone' »Play Video
Leslie Jenea Chance and husband Todd Chance are seen in a viewer-contributed photo. Leslie Jenea Chance has been arrested on suspicion of murdering her husband, whose body was found dumped Aug. 25, 2013, in a rural farming area of Bakersfield, Calif.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — An elementary school principal is accused in the murder of her husband. Leslie Jenea Chance was taken into custody Thursday night, suspected of shooting her husband to death.

The body of 45-year-old Todd Chance had been found Sunday morning in a field west of Bakersfield.

"We're confident that she's the person responsible for shooting him," Kern County Sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt told Eyewitness News on Friday. He said investigators have witnesses, a timeline and evidence.

The 46-year-old wife goes by the name Jenea Chance, and co-workers in the Greenfield Union School District said they were shocked.

Jenea Chance is the principal at Fairview Elementary. She had been at the school since 1997.

“This is their principal,” assistant superintendent of personnel Kenneth Chichester said Friday. "It's someone they respect and love, and it's difficult, at best.”

He said a handful of parents were pulling their kids out of school, but Chichester assured Eyewitness News that students and the school are safe.

“Our assistant principal is there,” said Chichester. "The staff, the teachers are there. School operates as normal. Whatever fear there is there should be no fear.”

Sheriff investigators said they believe the husband and wife left their southwest Bakersfield home together at about 7:30 on Sunday morning. Pruitt said it's believed they were both in Todd Chance's black Mustang and drove to a dirt road off Noriega Road east of Enos Lane.

That's where the body was found in a field at about 9:30 a.m.

"We believe that he was shot in the vehicle out at the scene," Pruitt said. "But we're still trying to determine exactly where he was shot."

The Chance home in the southwest is about 11 miles from where the body was found. The car was later spotted abandoned about 15 miles away, near Tigerflower Drive and Wheatland Avenue. That's where a neighbor said she saw a woman get out of the black Mustang, and just walk away.

"When she parked the car and just left it, I figured it was a stolen vehicle," the neighbor there said. She didn't want to be identified, but told Eyewitness News the woman fumbled in the car for a couple minutes and then started walking.

The neighbor described the woman from the car as about 5-foot-6 and 145 pounds, with brown hair tucked up into a baseball cap. The neighbor said it was about 9 on Sunday morning.

The sheriff's spokesman said investigators think it was Jenea Chance who left her husband's car in that neighborhood.

"We believe that she abandoned the vehicle and then walked to another area and was able to make her way back to their home," Pruitt said. The sheriff's spokesman would not say how that happened. The distance between the car and the family home is about 4 miles.

Pruitt said a handgun was found in the car.

"We believe that's the firearm that was used in the shooting," he said.

Investigators have also talked to witnesses, according to Pruitt.

"We do have witnesses that have witnessed different parts of what occurred," he said. "We don't have a witness to the shooting."

He declined to say more about the witnesses.

Pruitt said Jenea Chance was taken into custody at the sheriff's headquarters on Thursday night. He said she had been asked to come and talk to detectives, adding they had talked to her several times already during the week.

Jenea Chance is being held in jail on first-degree murder charges, and she's expected to be in court next Tuesday.

Pruitt said over the weekend, investigators will do more interviews of witnesses and re-interview some witnesses. They will also have more evidence to process. And, Pruitt said Jenea Chance is the only suspect in this case.

"She acted alone," Pruitt said. "And she's responsible for shooting Todd Chance on Sunday morning."