Local News

Tuesday, Sep 03 2013 04:02 PM

Principal arrested in husband's killing released

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    By Photo courtesy of KBAK/KBFX-TV

    Leslie Jenea Chance

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    Todd Eric Chance

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

The elementary school principal arrested last week on suspicion of murdering her husband was released from custody Tuesday evening after prosecutors sent the case back to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office for further investigation.

Supervising Deputy District Attorney Andrea Kohler said she could neither discuss the information prosecutors sought from the Sheriff’s Office in the case of Jenea Chance nor set a timetable for how long it might take. She said the case was “kind of front and center” with detectives.

Chance, 46, was booked into jail Friday in connection with the shooting death of husband Todd Chance the weekend before. Her arrest stunned those who knew the Fairview Elementary School principal as a quiet, hard-working educator.

CNN, Inside Edition and other major news outlets were in Kern County parked outside Lerdo Jail awaiting her release, which occurred at 6:04 p.m.

Kern County Sheriff’s spokesman Ray Pruitt said Jenea Chance remains the sole suspect in the death of her husband. He said detectives have received information regarding what her motive might have been and are continuing to investigate.

Chance’s attorney, Kyle J. Humphrey, said he hasn’t seen the investigative reports, but given that his client was arrested and is now being released he’d love to have a look at them to see what evidence detectives think they have.

“My client’s adamant about her innocence,” Humphrey said.

Todd Chance’s mother, Diana Chance, said Tuesday morning — before news of Jenea Chance’s pending release — that her son enjoyed motorbikes and cheering for the Dallas Cowboys. She described him as an easygoing guy and the family peacemaker.

“The circumstances here are so horrendous that we can’t talk about what’s happened,” she said.

Jessica Bullman, Jenea Chance's daughter, released a statement Tuesday thanking the public for its thoughts and prayers.

"We love our mom and dad," the statement read, "and can't even begin to comprehend what is happening to our family right now. This is a tragedy for everyone involved. As we are grieving for the loss of our dad, we are also supporting our mother in this time of uncertainty."

Todd Chance’s funeral is scheduled for Wednesday.

The 45-year-old's body was found by farmworkers Aug. 25 in a field off a dirt section of Noriega Road near Enos Lane just south of the Rio Bravo-Greeley Unified School District offices. He’d been shot multiple times.

Pruitt said detectives believe Jenea Chance was in Todd Chance’s car as they drove out to the field, about 16 miles from their southwest Bakersfield home. He said that after the shooting she left the black 2011 Ford Mustang near the intersection of Tigerflower Drive and Wheatland Avenue and made her way home.

He said they’re not yet releasing details on how she got home.

Kenneth R. Chichester, assistant superintendent of personnel for the Greenfield Union School District, said Chance is on paid administrative leave and that he and other district officials planned to meet with school district attorneys Tuesday evening to discuss their next step.

Jenea Chance has been with the district since 1997, and principal of Fairview since 2010.

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