School principal to be released for 'further investigation' of murder

School principal to be released for 'further investigation' of murder

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — An elementary school principal won't be arraigned Tuesday on a murder charge, as authorities previously stated she would.

The body of 45-year-old Todd Chance was found Aug. 25 in a field west of Bakersfield. The man's wife, Leslie Jenea Chance, was arrested at the end of the same week as the lone suspect.

"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 had witnesses, a timeline and evidence.

Tuesday, Supervising Deputy District Attorney Andrea Kohler told Eyewitness News her office had reviewed the case against Jenea Chance, and sent it back to the sheriff's department for "further investigation." Kohler wouldn't say what prosecutors wanted examined or how long the additional investigation should take.

With Chance not being arraigned by Tuesday, it was expected she would be released from custody. She had been held at the Lerdo Jail.

Pruitt also told Eyewitness News on Tuesday that the case was coming back to the sheriff's department, but he didn't have details of the investigation ahead of them.

Chance is the principal at Fairview Elementary. She has been at the school since 1997. She's been on bereavement leave since the body of her husband was discovered, and a school district official said they were weighing the personnel options.

Late Tuesday, district assistant superintendent of personnel Kenneth Chichester said Chance will now be placed on paid administrative leave "until things get sorted out."

As for the investigation, sheriff officials said they believe the husband and wife left their southwest Bakersfield home together around 7:30 the morning of Aug. 25. 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 by farmworkers 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."

Pruitt didn't say what investigators believe to be the motive.