Carlee Russell, the Alabama woman who claimed she was kidnapped after she went missing for two days, was arrested on Friday and charged with making false statements to police.
Hoover Police Department Chief Nicholas Derzis made the announcement during a press conference on Friday, ABC News Reports. The story opens wounds for families whose loved ones really were victims of kidnappings,” Derzis said.
The police chief also expressed that he shares in the “frustration” that Russell was charged only with misdemeanors and is now suggesting an “enhancement” to be added to the law.
“Existing laws only allowed the charges that were filed to be filed,” he said.
Russell has been charged with two class A misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in prison for each charge: false reporting to law enforcement authorities and false reporting of an incident.
The announcement of charges comes just days after the 25-year-old admitted through a statement from her attorney that she lied and made up the whole story. Derzis read a statement that Russell’s attorney, Emory Anthony, provided to police and shared with reporters during a press conference on Monday confirming that “there was no kidnapping.”
“My client has given me permission to make the following statement on her behalf. There was no kidnapping on Thursday, July 13, 2023. 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. This was a single act done by herself,” the statement as read by Derzis said.
“We ask for your prayers for Carlee as she addresses her issues and attempts to move forward. Understanding that she made a mistake in this matter, Carly, again, asks for your forgiveness and prayers,” the statement continued.
Before she vanished for two days, Russell called 911 on July 12 at about 9:30 at night to report seeing a child on Interstate 459 in Alabama. However, the Hoover Police Department stated in a statement last week that investigators had not discovered any evidence of a child walking on the side of the road. Derzis claims that Russell also told police that she was taken by a male and a female when she stopped to check on the toddler she reported on the highway on July 15 after she had returned home.
Neither Russell’s family nor her attorney have publicly commented on the charges.
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.