Carlee Russell confessed Monday that she did not see a toddler wandering along the side of the highway and that she lied about being kidnapped in a hoax that sparked a nationwide search for her.
During a news conference, Hoover Police Chief Nicholas C. Derzis read the statement provided by Russell’s counsel, in which the 25-year-old nursing student said she was not abducted on July 13, as the nation had been led to believe. Russell indicated that she had not departed the Hoover region.
She returned home 49 hours after a 911 caller reported seeing a juvenile on the highway.
“My client apologizes to the community, the volunteers who were searching for her, the Hoover Police Department, and other agencies for her actions,” the statement read.
According to Derzis, the police department is consulting with the district attorney’s office regarding prospective criminal charges.
Derzis stated that Russell was scheduled to be interviewed by police with her counsel on Monday, but instead, a statement was provided to the department. The department hopes to reschedule the interview and obtain more information from Russell.
“We’re still trying to determine where she was for those 49 hours, but I’m glad we received this information because it hopefully puts to rest some of the social media super sleuths’ theories about what happened,” Derzis said.
“We know by her own admission that it did not occur,” the superintendent continued.
Russell’s attorney indicated on Monday that she acted alone and without assistance.
Russell vanished after calling 911 at 9:20 p.m. to report seeing an infant on Interstate 459 South, according to Hoover police. Police say she also called a relative to report seeing the child and said she would help the child before the relative lost contact with her.
Authorities stated they were unable to authenticate Russell’s initial statements when she returned home two days later.
Russell’s parents, Talitha and Carlos Russell stated last week on “Today” that their daughter did not appear to be in a “good state” upon her return and appeared to have suffered severe trauma.
Talitha Russell stated, “There were instances in which she had to physically and mentally fight for her life.” “She made it back.”
Russell, Carlethia “Carlee” Nichole Facebook courtesy of the Hoover Police Department
Russell told police that she was forced into a tractor-trailer and taken to a residence, where a man and a woman told her to disrobe and then took photographs of her.
With the assistance of the Secret Service, investigators analyzed Russell’s mobile for the days preceding her disappearance. Before she vanished, she conducted internet searches about paying for Amber Alerts, stealing money from a register without being discovered, and the film “Taken.”
Russell’s disappearance garnered concern on social media platforms as people attempted to raise awareness about the search for her. Derzis did not provide a cost estimate for the search, but he did observe that it was an “all-hands-on-deck” operation.
The ex-boyfriend of Russell, Thomas Latrell Simmons, wrote on Facebook on Monday that he and his family were “blindsided” and reacted with genuine concern. He thanked the volunteers and others who provided assistance.
Last week, advocates told NBC BLK that although Russell’s case appeared to be a hoax, the issue of missing Black women and girls is still a significant one.
According to the most recent data from the National Crime Information Center, more than 30,000 Black Americans remained missing at the end of 2022. The majority of these cases involved Black women and children.