Police: Miss Puerto Rico Universe Told Truth About Pepper Spray

After a flurry of accusations and skepticism, an exhaustive investigation has determined that someone did try to sabotage a beauty contestant's bid for the Miss Puerto Rico Universe by dousing her garments with pepper spray, police said Wednesday.

The attempt failed because Ingrid Marie Rivera maintained her composure while appearing before judges and cameras, then went backstage to remove her clothes and apply ice bags to her swollen and splotched face and body. She went on to win the crown last month.

Police will present the results of their three-week-long investigation to the district attorney, who will decide whether to file charges against the suspect, a volunteer at the pageant, said San Juan police Detective Ivonne Reyes. Reyes refused to identify the volunteer or discuss a possible motive.

A black gown and the bathing suit that Rivera wore during the competition's final round tested positive for pepper spray, validating her claims of sabotage, police said. Allegations of sabotage were earlier questioned when another dress and a makeup brush tested negative for pepper spray.

"Miss Puerto Rico Universe was speaking the truth. She was being sincere about the allegations," Lt. Eddie Hernandez, a San Juan police spokesman, said Wednesday.

Extensive interviews led police to focus their suspicions on the volunteer and not a rival contestant, Hernandez said, adding that the pepper spray was likely applied when contestants and their assistants left the changing room. Five pageant officials who handled the clothes also were affected by the spray, he said.

About five volunteers worked during the competition, said pageant director Magali Febles, adding that organizers will screen volunteers more carefully because "there are some people who are very fanatical" about the contestants.

"We generate a lot of passion," she added.