Carlee Russell: No jail time for woman accused of faking her own kidnapping 

Francis Akhalbey March 22, 2024
Carlee Russell admitted to faking her kidnapping -- Photo: Hoover Police Department

Carlee Russell, the Alabama woman who lied about her kidnapping that led to a nationwide search, was on Thursday sentenced to a year of probation after she pleaded guilty to filing a false police report and falsely reporting an incident to law enforcement, WIAT reported.

Besides probation, Russell, who won’t spend any time behind bars after being handed a six-month suspended jail sentence, will also have to serve 100 hours of community service and pay $18,000 in restitution to the city of Hoover.

The punishment handed out to Russell comes on the back of her initial sentence to a year in prison in October 2023 after she was found guilty of two misdemeanor counts in connection with the case, Face2Face Africa reported at the time. Russell entered a not-guilty plea during her court appearance at the time and her lawyers also said they would appeal the verdict.

Russell last year had claimed that she was kidnapped after she saw a baby on the side of the road. But she later admitted to making up the story. 

Russell was reported missing after she called 911 to report that she saw a male toddler in a diaper walking on the side of the I-459 South in Hoover, a suburb of Birmingham. Russell had closed from her job at the Woodhouse Day Spa in the Summit and was almost home when she saw the child, her parents said. She stopped her vehicle to check on the child and called a family member but her family lost contact with her even though the phone line remained open, police said at the time.

Police arrived at the scene but did not find Russell or the toddler except for her car and belongings including her phone. Her family and friends started searching for her and asked for help. Hoover police said they received a call days later that Russell had returned to her home on foot. She told the police that a man with orange hair kidnapped her and she was blindfolded in a house where she was forced to get undressed.

But Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis said they later found that Russell made various online searches before she was reported missing. Those searches included “do you have to pay for an Amber Alert” and “how to take money from a register without being caught.” She also searched for “Taken”, a movie about a child who was kidnapped. 

At a news conference that was subsequently held by authorities, a statement from Russell’s attorney stated that she was not kidnapped and did not see a child along Interstate 459.

“There was no kidnapping on Thursday, July 13, 2023. My client did not see a baby on the side of the road,” the statement from Russell’s attorney, Emory Anthony, said. “My client did not leave the Hoover area when she was identified as a missing person.”

Russell in the statement also apologized to the people who aided in searching for her. “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 and to her friends and family. 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,” the statement added.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 22, 2024


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