The Alabama woman, who mysteriously disappeared for 48 hours and later admitted she was not kidnapped, faces a misdemeanor felony charge.
Carlee Russell, 25, has been charged with false reporting to law enforcement and falsely reporting an incident after she called 911 on July 13 to report a toddler walking alone on the freeway. By the time police arrived, she was gone, her car still running and her belongings nearby, prompting a search and national headlines. After returning home on foot two days later, she allegedly told police that she had been kidnapped by a man and a woman and held captive before she could escape. However, questions arose about the circumstances of her disappearance and her story, and she admitted through a lawyer that there had been no kidnapping.
At first, despite all the online speculation, Russell’s family rushed to her defense. In a July 18th interview Speaking on NBC’s Today, Russell’s parents said their daughter was “fighting for her life” during the time she was missing.
“She’s dealing with the trauma of having people make completely false accusations about her,” Russell’s mother said at the time.
Days later, police in Hoover, Alabama, said they were “unable to verify their account of what happened using surveillance footage and other evidence.” They also said their internet search history contained questions about Amber Alerts and the kidnapping movie Taken.
In a statement Monday, Russell’s attorney said she was not abducted and did not see a toddler on the side of the road.
“My client did not leave the Hoover area when she was identified as a missing person. My client had no help in this incident. “It was a single act that she did herself,” the statement said.