Carlee Russell, a 25-year-old woman from Alabama, is expected to face criminal charges after confessing that her abduction story was a complete lie. On the evening of 13 July 2023, Russell disappeared after calling 911 to report that she was stopping to help a toddler walking alone on Interstate 459. Two days later, she returned home and claimed that she had been abducted and barely managed to escape.
Upon her return, Russell asserted that she had been kidnapped by a man with “orange hair.” She arrived at her parents’ house on foot with $107 concealed in her right sock, recounting a harrowing tale of barely surviving the ordeal, after fighting for her life.
However, during a news conference on Monday 24 July, Hoover Police Department Chief Nicholas Derzis announced that Russell’s attorney, Emory Anthony, had provided a statement admitting the abduction was a hoax and that she had never even left the area.
“My client apologises 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. There was no kidnapping on Thursday, July 13. My client did not see a baby on the side of the road,” Anthony said in the statement. Subsequently, Russell’s attorney met with detectives to discuss his client’s case and went on to add that charges are likely to be filed against her as early as Wednesday 26 July.
The situation has caused significant distress for Russell’s ex-boyfriend, Thomas Simmons, who expressed feeling “blindsided” by her lies. In a lengthy statement posted to his Instagram, Simmons expressed his disgust with her actions.
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Russell’s whereabouts during the 49 hours that she was reportedly missing remain unclear. According to her attorney’s statement, she did not leave the Hoover area and was not at any motels during the allocated time. Anthony also asserted that Russell acted alone in her staged disappearance.
While the motive behind the woman’s actions has yet to be confirmed, investigators found some insight into her mental state based on her activities leading up to the disappearance. According to The Independent, surveillance footage showed her leaving her workplace carrying items she allegedly was not supposed to have, including a roll of toilet paper and a bathrobe. Additionally, her internet history showed that she’d searched for information on Amber alerts and how to make money from a register without being caught.
The admission of the false claim has raised numerous unanswered questions, and the community, volunteers, and law enforcement agencies are now grappling with the aftermath of the incident.
Many are still left wondering about the consequences Russell will face for her actions. Her attorney has expressed that she is still dealing with her personal issues. Charges against her could include making false statements to law enforcement, wasting police resources, and potentially other related charges.
On top of that, more than $63,000 was raised during the two-day search for Russell. However, after she reappeared and her abduction claims were doubted by law enforcement, it was decided that the reward money would not be returned to donors. The decision has left some donors disappointed, sparking discussions about the handling of reward money in similar cases.
As the investigation continues, the fate of the reward money remains uncertain, and the community continues to seek answers and a proper resolution to this puzzling case.