Carlee Russell charged with 2 misdemeanors in kidnapping hoax. She claimed she was kidnapped after calling 911 to report a child walking on the interstate.
Following Carlee Russell’s shocking admission that her kidnapping was little more than a work of fiction, the 25-year-old nursing student now faces charges stemming from her false abduction claims, according to authorities in Hoover, Ala.
Russell turned herself in Friday to police and has since bonded out. She is charged with false reporting to law enforcement and falsely reporting an incident, both misdemeanors, according to Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis.
Each charge carries up to a year in jail upon conviction, as well as fines of up to $6,000, Derzis said.
Derzis says he still does not know where Russell was during the period she claimed to be abducted, saying, “We have no idea where Carlee Russell was for 49 hours.”
He said many have expressed frustration that Russell will be charged with misdemeanors and not felonies. “I share the frustration, but existing laws only allow the 2 charges that were filed to be filed,” he said.
“Her decisions that night created panic and alarm for the citizens of our city and even across the nation,” he added. “As concern grew that a kidnapper was on the loose using a small child as bait, numerous law enforcement agencies, both local and federal, began working tirelessly — not only to bring Carlee home to her family and locate a kidnapper we know now that never existed.”
Derzis added, “The story opened wounds for families of loved ones who were really victims of kidnapping, some of which even helped organize searches in hopes of finding Carlee alive, so their family wouldn’t feel the pain and suffering they felt when their loved ones never returned home.”
Due to the high-profile nature of the case, Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office will handle the case, said Derzis.
Last week, Derzis said authorities were “unable to verify” Russell’s claims about a missing toddler and other key details from the nursing student’s frantic 911 call, and she was subsequently forced to come clean about her false account.
Russell disappeared after calling 911 on the night of July 13, telling a dispatcher that she stopped along I-459 on her way home from work after seeing a toddler walking alone in a diaper along the highway. She returned home on foot two days later on July 15 and claimed she had been kidnapped, before managing to escape.
At a Monday press conference, Derzis read the following statement on behalf of Russell’s attorney Emory Anthony: “There was no kidnapping on Thursday, July 13. My client did not see a baby on the side of the road. My client did not leave the Hoover area when she was identified as a missing person. My client did not have any help in this incident, that this was a single act done by herself.”
“My client did not have help in this incident, that this was a single act done by herself. My client was not with anyone or [at] any hotel with anyone from the time she was missing,” the statement continued. “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.”
Derzis said on Monday he did not know why Russell had faked the kidnapping.
“I wish I could tell you,’’ he said. “I think only Carlee knows, and maybe her attorney knows now.”