June 17, 2024

Carlee Russell admits she was never kidnapped, Alabama police say

Authorities in Alabama have revealed that Carlee Russell’s story of being abducted on the side of the highway after stopping to check on a toddler was a hoax.

Ms. Russell’s disappearance shocked police in Hoover when the 25-year-old’s car was found in a stretch of highway after she made a 911 call reporting a stranded toddler. She mysteriously reappeared at her parents’ home 49 hours later, claiming she had been abducted by “a man with orange hair” and forced to undress and pose for photographs.

After much speculation about the truth of her claim, Hoover Police Department Chief Nicholas Derzis confirmed Monday that Ms. Russell had admitted to lying about her supposed abduction in a statement provided by her attorney.

“There was no abduction on Thursday, July 13. My client did not see a child on the side of the road,” the statement read, according to Chief Derzis, who read it at a news conference. “My client apologizes for her actions to this community, to the volunteers who searched for her, to the Hoover Police Department and other agencies as well, and to her friends and family.”

Police announced the development five days after casting doubt on Ms Russell’s story last week. Investigators found that Ms Russell’s online search before she went missing included a 2008 film taken, amber alerts, and “how to cash out of a program without getting caught.”

Ms Russell asked for the public’s forgiveness and prayers as she continues to “deal with her issues”. Chief Derzis said Ms Russell could face charges amid an investigation into her whereabouts during the 49 hours she claimed to be missing.

The statement read by Chief Derzis also read: “My client did not see a child on the side of the road. My client did not leave the Hoover area when she was identified as a missing person. My client had no help in this incident, but this was an act of her own doing.”

Ms. Russell’s attorney, Emory Anthony, said her client was not at any motels in the area, as reported on social media, but did not elaborate on Ms. Russell’s whereabouts as the public desperately searched for her.

“This was an elaborate deal. When you talk about calling 911,” Chief Derzis said. “The sad thing is that so many people were involved and they took this very, very seriously and, again, we wanted the focus to be on getting her home and she got home … That’s what it’s all about. We know it was a hoax.”

Carlee Russell’s disappearance shocked police in Hoover when the 25-year-old’s car was found in a stretch of highway after she made a 911 call reporting a stranded toddler.

(Hoover Police Department)

The police department will meet with Mr. Anthony in the following days to discuss the next steps in the investigation. Mr. Derzis said he has contacted the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office about possible criminal charges and hopes Ms. Anthony will arrange an interview between Ms. Russell and investigators.

Mr Derzis did not provide the cost of the frantic search launched after Miss Russell’s abduction.

“We don’t have a dollar figure yet but we’re definitely working on getting one, not just ours, but the other agencies that have given us a lot of support,” he said Monday. “We still don’t know what happened during those 49 hours, where she was, if she got any help.”

Hoover Police Chief Nicholas Derzis confirmed Monday that Ms. Russell had admitted to lying about her alleged kidnapping in a statement

(WVTM)

The circumstances of the alleged abduction initially fueled speculation that the abductors were being used by a new abduction involving children to lure victims, despite repeated attempts by law enforcement to indicate that there was no evidence of such a threat.

During a police interview after arriving at her parent’s home on July 15, Miss Russel alleged that she got out of her vehicle when she saw a barefoot toddler walking in a field near the highway. Then, a man with orange hair and a bald spot “came out of the trees” and kidnapped her, she said.

Ms Russell told police she heard a woman and a child inside an 18-wheel semi-trailer, before making a short escape. She said she was then recaptured and taken to a house, where her alleged captors forced her to take pictures and expose herself.

It is alleged that she escaped a second time while being forced into a car and fled to the woods and eventually ended up at her parent’s house.

The Secret Service analyzed her phone and computers, and found Internet searches that were “very relevant to this case,” Mr. Derzis said. On July 11, Miss Russell searched: “Do you have to pay for an amber alert or a search”.

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