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Bakersfield principal arrested in husband's murder released

Leslie Chance, 46, is shown in an undated file photo.
September 3, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Bakersfield elementary school principal who was arrested for the murder of her husband was released from jail Tuesday, according to the Kern County District Attorney's Office.

Popular principal Leslie Chance was released after the district attorney rejected the case against her, sending it back to investigators for further review.

The 46-year-old faces no charges, but the district attorney says the sheriff could re-arrest Chance in the future if additional evidence is found.

Chance was a principal and assistant principal at Fairview Elementary School in Bakersfield for years. But on Aug. 25, police say she fired multiple gunshots into her husband, Todd Chance, and then dumped his body in an almond orchard.

Lisa Ramos worked closely with Chance for the parent teacher organization at Fairview Elementary. She says the hard-working principal couldn't hurt anyone.

"I didn't believe it. She's really quiet," said Ramos. "Usually you see some kind of character in someone, and she just doesn't fit that bill at all."

But authorities say after farm workers discovered Todd Chance's body, his Ford Mustang was found abandoned at an intersection 20 miles away. They say his wife was driving, ditched the car and walked home.

Investigators say they have recovered a murder weapon, but they still do not appear to have a motive.

"They seemed to get along good," said Ramos. "He was always in a good mood. She was in a good mood. They communicated well together."

Chance's family says they are shocked. She and her husband were married for nearly two decades. They have two children together. Todd even helped raise her 23-year-old daughter, Jessica Bullman, from a previous marriage.

Bullman recently spoke to a newspaper reporter from The Bakersfield Californian, saying: "He was the best guy, the best husband, the best dad. He's been in my life since I was four. He was my dad, and he was everything."

Tuesday morning, students at Fairview Elementary returned to class. School officials said they were prepared for a tough day.

"I try to get them refocused as best I can," said Ken Chichester, assistant superintendent of personnel at Greenfield Union School District. "You know we need to educate students. That's what we're here for, and that's what we'll do. The students need them to be strong."

The funeral for 45-year-old Todd Chance was scheduled to be held Wednesday in Bakersfield.


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