Alabama Woman Charged With Falsely Reporting Kidnapping

Carlee Russell claimed she was taken after seeing toddler by road
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 24, 2023 4:57 PM CDT
Updated Jul 28, 2023 2:45 PM CDT
Alabama Woman Confesses to Fabricating Kidnapping
In this image taken from video provided by ABC 33/40, Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis speaks at a press conference, Wednesday, July 19, 2023, in Hoover, Ala.   (ABC 33/40 via AP)
UPDATE Jul 28, 2023 2:45 PM CDT

An Alabama woman who has acknowledged making up a story that she was kidnapped along an interstate after stopping to help a child has been charged in the case, officials said Friday. Carlee Russell faces two misdemeanor counts, false reporting to law enforcement and falsely reporting an incident, that could bring a year in jail, the AP reports. Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis said Russell turned herself in Friday and was released on bond. He expressed frustration that the law only provides for the misdemeanor charges and said Russell's actions caused unnecessary alarm. "Numerous law enforcement agencies, both local and federal, began working tirelessly not only to bring Carlee home to her family but locate a kidnapper that we now know never existed," he said. "Many private citizens volunteered their time and energy in looking for a potential kidnapping victim that we know now was never in any danger."

Jul 24, 2023 4:57 PM CDT

Authorities in Alabama said Monday that a woman has confessed to fabricating a story that she was kidnapped after stopping to check on a toddler she saw walking on the side of the interstate. Hoover Police Chief Nicholas Derzis said Carlee Russell's attorney, Emory Anthony, provided a statement on Monday saying there was no kidnapping, the AP reports. "There was no kidnapping on Thursday July 13. My client did not see a baby on the side on the road," the statement read, according to Derzis, who read it at a news conference. She did not leave the city, and acted alone, the statement added.

"My client apologizes for her actions to this community, the volunteers who were searching for her, to the Hoover Police Department and other agencies as well, as to her friends and family," Anthony said in a statement. "We ask for your prayers for Carlee, as she addresses her issues and attempts to move forward, understanding that she made a mistake in this matter. Carlee again asks for your forgiveness and prayer." Police announced the development five days after casting doubt on Russell's story. Derzis said it is possible that Russell could face charges. He said they are trying to determine where she was in the two days she was gone.

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Russell, 25, disappeared after calling 911 on July 13 to report a toddler wandering beside a stretch of interstate. She returned home two days later and told police she had been abducted and forced into a vehicle. Russell told detectives she was taken by a man who came out of the trees when she stopped to check on the child, put her in a car and an 18-wheel truck, blindfolded her and held her at a home where a woman fed her cheese crackers, authorities said. Investigators cast doubt on her story in a news conference last week. They said in the days before her disappearance, she searched for information on her cellphone about Amber Alerts, a movie about a woman's abduction, and a one-way bus ticket from Birmingham, Alabama, to Nashville, Tennessee, departing the day she disappeared. (Read more Alabama stories.)

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