Carlee Russell, whose reported kidnapping led to nationwide search, lied about abduction. What next?

Mildred Europa Taylor July 25, 2023
Carlee Russell admitted to faking her kidnapping -- Photo: Hoover Police Department

Carlee Nichole Russell, an Alabama woman who disappeared but came back home safe and said she was kidnapped, lied about everything, officials said Monday. At a news conference 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, Emery Anthony, said. “My client did not leave the Hoover area when she was identified as a missing person.”

Russell in the statement 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.

Russell’s attorney said the 25-year-old had not left the Hoover area when she was reported missing and got no help from anyone. “My client did not have any help in this incident — this was a single act done by herself. My client was not with anyone or any hotel with anyone from the time she was missing,” he said.

Police in Alabama said they will still go on to investigate that part of Russell’s story as they still don’t know where she was for those 49 hours. Hoover police Chief Nick Derzis said authorities were talking with local prosecutors about possibly filing criminal charges against Russell. reported that she could potentially be charged with false reporting to law enforcement authorities or falsely reporting an incident.

Russell was reported missing recently 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, according to police.

Police arrived at the scene but did not find Russell or the toddler except for her car and belongings including her phone. Police said Russell ordered food after closing from her job before she reported seeing the child.

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 Derzis said the police 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. 

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: July 25, 2023


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