Back in April 2013, police in Weatherford, Texas arrested 25-year-old Sara Elizabeth Soto at 1:45 a.m. for breaking into a married couple's house via the doggy door. The homeowners found her completely naked in the bathtub, wanting to make a phone call. Police located her black dress on the porch outside.
News outlets from all over the world -- web, print, radio, TV, including us -- ran with the story of a 4’11″, 110-pound young woman who managed to wriggle through a pet entrance. Soto's name returns thousands of Google results, but she says not a single journalist reached out for her side of the story -- and it's weirder than anyone imagined.
Also, police may rearrest this aspiring hip-hop artist in the immediate future, which she only discovered when MTV News asked her about a warrant issued the same day as this interview.
We can't verify 100% of what Soto told us, but we confirmed many details with Weatherford authorities and public records. Here's her take on that wild night, the massive publicity it generated and the legal saga that continues to ensue -- even though, Soto insists, she didn't actually wriggle through the doggy door in the first place.
First, her parents confessed she was adopted
"So obviously I wanted to get away from my house. I just found out the truth... I'd just found out I don't know who my father or mother is."
She drove 60 miles away and into a ditch
"I tried driving, my ass tries driving west. I got to Weatherford and it was late. I had spun out of control because of an 18-wheeler, and I wind up in a ditch. I manage to make it out of there, walk down the freeway -- somebody offered to help me, but they were super scary. I made it to the cop station at 12:45, 1:00 in the morning. I'm like, 'Hey, I was in an accident.' I explained to the cop where it happened. He gets my car towed."
The Weatherford Police Department confirms that Soto had driven her 2012 silver Nissan into a ditch, although the officer recorded no specific information about an 18-wheeler.
Her phone died, and she claims police wouldn't let her call home
"I thought [the cop] was going to help me get help. I ask to use a phone to call my mom. ... These are his exact words: 'That's not my problem; there's a gas station three blocks that way.' The cop did not help me call my mom -- he sent me walking in a little black dress. ... I didn't have any money. Nothing's open, I bet. ... It was a good bit past midnight."
A Weatherford police sergeant objects, "We don't have anything like that in the report. We are probably one of the friendliest police departments in the entire world. If somebody wants to report a yellow canary flew into their basement, we're going to take that report. ... If any officer said what [she alleges], they would receive discipline."
Google Maps shows a Shell station, which closes at 5:00 p.m., located seven minutes from the Weatherford Police Department, not far from the invaded house on Bois D Arc St.:
She tried knocking for help
"I walk toward some houses -- maybe somebody will let me use their phone. I knocked on six houses and nobody opened the door. ... I was scared 'cause I was by myself. What if [someone] brings me in the house and that's the last you ever hear of me?
"I start going to people's backyards. I've NEVER broken into a house before. I have music in my head, I have Led Zeppelin going, I'm in ninja mode. [I decide] I'll grab a cell phone, call my mom and leave. I'll meet her at an intersection. I'm going by windows in people's backyards, and I'm nervous. I see this doggy door."
She got naked as a weirdly logical safety strategy
"What went through my mind subconsciously was, if I take off my dress at this doggy door, I cannot get blamed for stealing anything [or having a weapon] if I have nowhere to put it. Two, the shock factor. If somebody were to be in there, whether it was a male or female, they'd ask me, 'Are you OK?'
"So I take off my dress and panties at the doggy door, so they wouldn't shoot me...so they're not scared of me stealing or trying to kill anybody."
She walked through the door like a regular human
"I allegedly went through the doggy door -- I didn't go through it! Everybody's wrong... I put my hands through the doggy door and unlock the door...and walk in [the normal way]."
Jumping into the bathtub wasn't part of her plan
"I don't see a phone and the alarm sounded and I was like, 'S--t,' but I was already in the house. I saw one door, it was the bathroom, so I sit in there. ... The husband says, 'It must've been an animal.' ... He keeps looking around the house, peeps his head in and sees me.
"I guess I did have a smile on my face like they said in the articles -- it was just one of those faces, like, 'Hello!' Hoping he'd be, like, 'What the f--k?' and just let me out of here. He's like, 'Honey, there's a girl in the bathroom,' and [the wife] goes, 'CALL THE COPS!'
"On YouTube they said I was 'sprawled.' I was not sprawled; I was not lying down in the bathtub. I was sitting down, holding my knees to cover my titties so they weren't showing."
This isn't an elaborate story to cover up an affair
"Everybody [on the internet] is like, 'Oh, she's the other woman and the wife found out and he says it's an intruder.' He was an honest man. He wasn't cheating on his wife. He was just making sure there wasn't anything wrong -- the alarm sounded, he was scoping out the house, he's a good guy. I could've been a psycho homicidal crazy bitch [but] I was trying to find a phone.
"I'm sorry to the people that live there, but I'm glad it was them, not some drunk a--hole or psycho serial killer."
Her underwear was never returned
"They arrested me and gave me my dress back -- everybody asked if they put me in handcuffs naked -- but they didn't give me my panties back. I don't know where they are."
Did we mention she's a rapper who goes by Sara Toke-A-Lot?
Here's a song that Soto sent us. Coincidentally (or maybe not) it contains the lyrics "society turned its back against me" and "you have no idea who I really be." There are also a couple NSFW lines:
(We suggested that she change her stage name to "Snoop Doggy Door." She said she's a huge fan of Snoop and just might write a song with that title.)
A cop asked her to bust a rhyme
"They put me in the back of a cop car and I'm chill as can be. I say I'm not good with words -- I freestyle, I'm a rap artist -- and the cop's like, 'You wanna bust a rhyme for me?' I bust a freestyle in the back of the cop car; he puts that s--t on YouTube. ... He cut out the part where I said I just found out I'm adopted, the part that would make me look sympathetic."
The police sergeant explains that a private citizen uploaded it: "Somebody filed an open records [request] on it... We can protect stuff from release for certain reasons, but if it doesn't meet those reasons, we have to release it." The video does end abruptly with Soto saying, "Just found out I'm a--"
No, she wasn't drunk
"Straight up, I'm a pothead [but I threw away] my bong, a badass beaker bong -- I had not smoked anything, I'm tired of this life, I want something new. ... The cop is like, 'Smoke anything tonight? Any bath salts?' No, I'm sober! I'm more sober than I've been in so long, and he asked me if I smoked bath salts?! If I'd been high on pot, I wouldn't have gotten in that situation, breaking into people's houses supposedly, allegedly through doggy doors."
The sergeant confirms, "She did not appear intoxicated on any kind of alcohol," but adds, "She was not sober. No. You can watch the video and answer your own question on that. You didn't hear her rapping about smoking pot?"
She alleges that jail guards bruised and pepper-sprayed her
"They put me in a holding cell. I was the only one in there... I had a panic attack in there and hit the panic button [for emergencies], and this one cop grabs me and puts this illegal hold on me. My arm was so bruised... She's being rough on me, bad rough. I had a bruise on my shoulder. I'm not gonna lie, I swung at one of them -- I hit her in the face -- and they maced me. ... They moved me to another room for 10 seconds, then they put me back in the room that was maced."
A Parker County Sheriff’s Office deputy says they have no record of Soto attacking a guard, but according to its website, "While the jail is the constitutional responsibility of the sheriff, its daily operations are managed by Community Education Centers [Inc.]." We've put in a request for records from the jail itself, which can take up to 10 business days and "you're not entitled to anything." A Parker County Jail official did not respond to a request for comment.
In 2012, the New York Times ran a three-part series on conditions at Community Education Centers facilities (which a Times columnist described as "something closer to hell on earth"), and a warden and chief of staff at a CEC-operated Texas jail were fired over sexual assault allegations. Last year, 13 Texas CEC guards pleaded guilty to a bribery scheme, and two Delaware CEC guards claimed they saw abuse of prisoners that included "waterboarding" with pepper spray. The ACLU of Texas accuses the for-profit company of various human rights abuses.
Soto says she was transferred to a psychiatric hospital
"I'd rather go to a loony bin than jail any day, hear me? I'm not gonna go through this police brutality bulls--t."
The sheriff's deputy explained that records of any such hospitalization "would not be public" and, if they exist, would require the Texas attorney general's permission for release. A North Texas State Hospital official likewise told us that privacy laws prevent confirming patient admissions.
That's when she learned about the viral news story
"They send me to a state hospital and this guy who works there -- a tech named Eddy -- says, 'You're famous, you're famous! I was looking up Weird News and it's worldwide, you're famous!'
"I look at my stories, and there are so many stories and so many comments from all over the U.S., London, Spain, Australia, China -- I got a Chinese report on my story, I got all these Asian dudes being like, 'I'd hit that.' All these girls saying, 'What if she has AIDS?' All these guys are saying they would put it on me; I have so many comments from guys, such funny-ass comments that the hater ones go over my head. ... I had a lot of female writers who are probably haters."
She wasn't embarrassed by the infamy
"I wasn't mad -- if I'm infamous for my bad reputation, I never cared about my bad reputation. I'm just gonna keep it real. ... Honestly those comments made me laugh. I was so giggly and laughing, it made me feel better about the situation. ... I had never had so many friend requests on Facebook."
Soto sent us a link to Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" video with the message "let em say what they'll say":
Her legal woes continue, and may get worse soon
"I'm still going to court for it. I had a warrant...since my court date was when I was in that hospital they sent me to, which I think is ridiculous, and then I was not advised of my second court date. I did time earlier this year for it. It's messing with my legal status bad honestly. The probation officer isn't [returning my calls]. Hmph, the system."
She received 18 months of probation, 60 hours of community service and $4,660 of fees and fines with bail. Parker County Courthouse records indeed specify "Failure To Appear" and "Notice Not Sent" for Soto's two court dates, the most recent of which was May 23 of this year. On July 22, coincidentally the day that we spoke with Soto, Parker County authorities issued another warrant for her arrest, pending a motion to revoke her probation.
We asked Soto if she knew that she may be jailed again
"WTF HELL NO," she wrote back. She got in touch with her probation officer on July 25 and told us, "Imma get locked up THREE TIMES FOR THIS. [The probation officer] said she didn't tell me cos I'd run... I need a f--king lawyer, man." She added later, "I think I've suffered enough for this bull. They made enough money by now off this case."
Soto was cagey about the probation violation, but said it was because she went to jail for a separate incident, thus ironically triggering yet another stint. The Parker County Courthouse explained that she ran away from a cop on June 6 (after traveling 275 miles away without permission) and didn't notify her probation officer within five days. Soto quoted Fiona Apple's "Criminal": "I been a bad, bad girl."
People still recognize her a year later
"Everybody's like, 'You look familiar, I've seen you before -- how tall are you?' I don't want to lie about my height, but if I say 4'11", I'm f--ked."
Her parents weren't too upset
"My mom and dad were just concerned. They didn't make a big deal, they didn't get mad at me -- they were understanding because I told them what happened. My friends were just like, 'Oh my god, Sara, that's loca.' That's all I've been hearing all my life. It's called survival skills!"
She's worried the scandal made her unemployable
"I have not applied to a job for that very reason. I already know they'll look at my name and it'll pop up."
But maybe that's all the more reason to focus on her hip-hop career?
"I work on my music, I've made money off my music, and I'll be on tour [with other Texas rappers]. ... My partner is setting it up right now; we're going to get on a bus and see how long we're going to be out.
"I'm happy about it, I'm already working on my music. I didn't mean to do all this -- it was like a publicity stunt, but I didn't do it for that. I'm just wild and free, and that's what America's supposed to be about, right?"