HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Authorities in Alabama said Monday that a woman has confessed to fabricating a story that she was kidnapped after stopping to check on a toddler she saw walking on the side of the interstate.
Hoover Police Department Chief Nicholas Derzis said Carlee Russell’s attorney, Emory Anthony, provided a statement on Monday saying there was no kidnapping.
“There was no kidnapping on Thursday July 13. My client did not see a baby on the side on the road,” the statement read, according to Derzis, who read it at a news conference. She did not leave the city, and acted alone, the statement added.
“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,” Anthony said in a statement. “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. Carlee again asks for your forgiveness and prayers.”
The Hoover Police Department announced the development five days after casting doubt on Russell’s story. Derzis said it is possible that Russell could face charges. He said they are trying to determine where she was in the two days she was gone.
“This was an elaborate deal. When you talk about calling 911,” the chief said.
Russell, 25, disappeared after calling 911 on July 13 to report a toddler wandering beside a stretch of interstate. She returned home two days later and told police she had been abducted and forced into a vehicle.
Her disappearance became a national news story. Images of the missing 25-year-old were shared broadly on social media.
Russell told detectives she was taken by a man who came out of the trees when she stopped to check on the child, put her in a car and an 18-wheel truck, blindfolded her, and held her at a home where a woman fed her cheese crackers, authorities said at a news conference last week. At some point, Carlee Russell said she was put in a vehicle again but managed to escape and run through the woods to her neighborhood.
Investigators cast doubt on her story in a news conference last week. They said in the days before her disappearance, she searched for information on her cellphone about Amber Alerts, a movie about a woman’s abduction, and a one-way bus ticket from Birmingham, Alabama, to Nashville, Tennessee, departing the day she disappeared. Her phone also showed she traveled about 600 yards while telling a 911 operator she was following a 3- or 4-year-old child in a diaper on the side of the highway.
Hoover is about 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of Birmingham.