Carlethia “Carlee” Nichole Russell, the 25-year-old Alabama nursing student who told police she was abducted, admitted Monday through a statement from her lawyer that she was not kidnapped.
Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis read the statement from Russell’s attorney Emory Anthony during a news conference on Monday afternoon.
“There was no kidnapping on July 13. My client did not see a baby and did not leave the Hoover area, she did not have an accomplice, she was not in a hotel or was with anyone while she was missing,” Derzis read on behalf of Russell’s lawyer.
“My client did not have help in this incident, that this was a single act done by herself,” the statement continued. “My client was not with anyone or any hotel with anyone from the time she was missing. 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.”
The search for Russell began on July 13 after she called 911 to report seeing a toddler on the road and vanished. She returned home 49 hours later on July 15 and, in a brief statement, told Hoover police officers that she had been abducted.
Russell’s disappearance made national headlines and drew concern across social media platforms, particularly due to the stark statistics of missing Black women and girls. According to the most recent data from the National Crime Information Center, more than 30,000 Black people in the United States were still unaccounted for as of the end of 2022. Black women and girls missing accounted for half of the cases.
Authorities have since said that they could not verify most of Russell’s story of being abducted. Officers expected to meet with her again on Monday, but Russell’s attorney instead issued a statement, according to Derzis.
“We ask for your prayers for Carlee as she addresses her issues and attempts to move forward,” Derzis read on behalf of Russell’s lawyer. “Understanding that she made a mistake in this matter, Carlee again asks for your forgiveness and prayers.”
The statement didn’t indicate where Russell was while a massive search for her took place.
The Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office is currently in discussions with police about possible criminal charges, Derzis said. Police will meet with Russell’s attorney on Tuesday to obtain more information. They have not had a second opportunity to speak with Russell or learn any additional information about why she vanished.
“I wish I could tell you,” Derzis said. “I think only Carlee knows, and maybe her attorney now.