Authorities said Carlee Russel, a nursing student from Alabama, was charged Friday with two misdemeanors including false reporting after she had gone missing for two consecutive days and made up a story about being kidnapped.
Nick Derzis, Hoover Police chief, told reporters that Russell surrendered herself to police in the Hoover City Jail on Friday afternoon. She was charged with two misdemeanors: falsely reporting an incident and falsely reporting to law enforcement.
Russell was released after posting bail of $1,000 for each charge.
Derzis stated that “This story has opened wounds in the hearts of families who have loved ones who were real victims of kidnapping. Some of them even helped organize searches hoping to find Carlee still alive.”
Russell, 24, called 911 at 9:34 pm on July 13, to report that a toddler was walking southbound along Interstate 459, near Birmingham.
She returned home at 10:45 pm on July 15, near the spot where she had been seen by police walking down the sidewalk.
In an email to the Hoover Police Department, Emery Anthony, Russell’s lawyer, stated that his client had admitted never having seen a baby along Interstate 459, and never being a missing person.
“My client had no help with this incident. The statement stated that this was an act she did by herself. “My client did not stay in any hotel or with anyone during the time that she was missing.” “My client apologizes to this community and the volunteers that were searching for the missing woman, as well as to the Hoover Police Department, other agencies, and her family and friends.”
Russell’s false story caused a stir in the community, as it sparked fears of a kidnapper on the loose. Authorities searched for suspects and the baby that never existed.
Derzis pointed out on Friday that the existing laws allowed only Russell to be charged with misdemeanors. He said that he would contact lawmakers and urge them to increase penalties for falsely reporting violent crimes.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall announced that his office would assist in the prosecution of Russell.
Marshall stated, “We do not see this as an innocent crime.” This investigation has taken a lot of time and resources. Not only that but also the men and women civilians who donned those yellow vests in hot weather to look for someone they believed was abducted or trying to help.
Derzis stated that the authorities still do not know where Russell was during her 49-hour absence.
We still don’t have any idea what happened during those 49 hours or where she was. Was she helped? Derzis replied, “We have no idea.” We wanted to focus on bringing her home.” She did. “We’re excited about that.”
Derzis stated, “The facts I (spoke) about last Wednesday showed pretty much that we knew that it was a joke.”
The police had earlier reported that Russell stole toilet paper and a robe from her employer, the Woodhouse Spa Birmingham. Later, she picked up takeout food and was seen at Target getting snacks.