On Friday, 26-year-old Carlee Russell turned herself into the Hoover City Jail in Hoover, Alabama, and was charged with false reporting to law enforcement and false reporting an incident after she confessed to faking her own kidnapping earlier this month.
Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis told reporters at a press conference that Russel faces up to a year in jail and a potential fine of $6,000. He noted that she was released on a $2,000 bond shortly after.
Russell went missing on July 13, after she had called 911 to report a toddler alone on the highway when her voice dropped off the call. She returned home on foot close to 48 hours later. On July 24, police revealed that she had confessed to the hoax at a press conference.
In her statement, through her attorney, she said, “There was no kidnapping." The statement continued, “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...”
At Friday's press conference, Dezis addressed the public's frustration at the leniency of the charge. He said, "I know many are shocked and appalled that Miss Russell is only being charged with two misdemeanors despite all the panic and disruption her actions caused, Let me assure you, I too share the same frustration but existing laws only allow the charges that were filed to be filed."
Dezis added that Attorney General Steve Marsh's office agreed to take on the case. At the press conference, Marsh announced that his office would be investigating for additional charges.
“We don’t see this as a victimless crime,” he said. "We intend to fully prosecute this case, and look forward to working with the Hoover Police Department moving forward."
Police initially expressed their doubts about Russell's story at a press conference on July 19, noting that she had "very strange" internet searches in the days leading up to her disappearance and no evidence of a toddler walking on the busy highway.
In the days leading up to her disappearance, Russell typed "Do you have to pay for an amber alert" in a search. She also looked into a "Birmingham bus station," and for a "One-way bus ticket from Birmingham to Nashville" with a departure date of July 13, in addition to looking up "the movie Taken."
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