Police Now Believe Miss Puerto Rico a Pepper-Spray Victim

12/19/2007 at 08:00 PM EST

Police Now Believe Miss Puerto Rico a Pepper-Spray Victim
Ingrid Marie Rivera
Luis Alcala del Olmo/AP
The Miss Puerto Rico pepper-spray case took yet another drastic turn Wednesday with police now saying the beauty queen did in fact have her gown sprayed as she has claimed.

And there's even a suspect – a pageant volunteer.

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

After being crowned at the Nov. 24 pageant, Ingrid Marie Rivera alleged that someone, perhaps a rival contestant, had pepper-sprayed her black gown and bathing suit. She said she had applied ice bags to her face and body, in between turns onstage, to be able to continue with the competition.

Her claims were met with some skepticism in the ensuing days and weeks, and police announced earlier this month that an initial investigation found no traces of the spray.

But after conducting numerous interviews, police now say they believe a perpetrator did in fact spray the dress. The suspect is a volunteer, rather than a fellow contestant. Police haven't identified the suspect or the motive, and the DA has not decided whether to file charges.

Rivera will next compete in the Miss Universe pageant in Vietnam next July.

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