Welp, lying about getting kidnapped while eating your cheese crackers in somebody’s woods will get you arrested and charged, as Carlee Russell has just learned. Deets inside on the Hoover, Alabama’s police’s & prosecutor’s latest move in the most viral finesse of the year.
The wildest kidnapping scheme of the year – and to be clear, this wasn’t the ONLY one – has come to a close with criminal consequences: An arrest and misdemeanor charges.
Hoover Police arrested Carlee Russell today, charging her with two misdemeanors, false reporting to law enforcement authorities and falsely reporting of an incident. Each charge carries up to one year in jail, which means she’s facing up to two total years in lock up.
The 25-year-old, pictured in her mugshot above, reportedly turned herself in before the press conference and was released on a $2,000 bond – $1,000 for each charge.
Carlee’s attorney, Emory Anthony, told TMZ today:
“What we’re dealing with is a young lady who made a huge mistake. She’s been arrested and she’s been charged and she’s eager to finish up and be through with it. She’s dealing with some issues.” He concluded, “We will look forward to going to court.”
Hoover’s prosecutor says he’s disappointed he could not charge her with heavier charges, but this is the most he can do within the extent of the law.
Welp. We definitely hope she gets the help she so very clearly needs.
Nursing student Carlethia “Carlee” Nichole Russell went viral earlier this month when she was reported missing after calling 911 claiming she saw a toddler walking along the interstate.
On July 13th, she called 9-1-1 and told them she saw an unsupervised child walking on the side of the interstate. The operator asked her to stay in the area and keep an eye on her until hey arrive, but she was gone once police arrived.
Carlee reportedly also called her brother’s wife on her way home, and during the conversation, exclaimed that she saw a small child in diapers on the side of the road. Cameras along Interstate 459 South near Mile Market 11 in Hoover did show her car coming to a stop on the highway where she made the call, but almost 600 yards away from where she originally said she “saw” the child. She isn’t seen after the car stops.
The sister-in-law stated she heard Carlee ask someone if they are alright, and then she heard a loud gasp, then Carlee was no longer on the phone.
A 49-hour long search was underway that evening, with her story going viral, a $30,000 reward, GoFundMe’s and fervent requests from family to find her taking over social media. Many believed this was possibly a sex trafficking situation, as sometimes sex traffickers lure in victims with children.
Police revealed her wig and other personal items were found at the scene of the alleged kidnapping, and folks started to get quite suspicious about whether a kidnapping actually happened, especially since no child was reported missing and no one else reported seeing a child on the busy interstate.
On July 15th, Carlee showed up at her parent’s home. Police revealed she was checked out by EMTs at the home, and then taken to the hospital. And her story began to unravel. Fox 5 reports:
Authorities said that Russell had told them she was taken by a red-haired 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 at a home where a woman fed her cheese crackers.
“That man then picked her up and she screamed. He then made her go over a fence. He then forced her into a car and the next thing she remembers is being in the trailer of an 18-wheeler. She stated that the male was with a female, however, she never saw the female, only hearing her voice. She also told detectives she could hear a baby crying,” Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis said.
At some point, Russell said she was put in a vehicle again but managed to escape and run through the woods to her neighborhood.
Derzis said detectives were still investigating where Russell was and what happened to her between the time she went missing and her return home. But he also said investigators have been “unable to verify most of Carlee’s initial statement.”
At this point, much of America began to believe this was a hoax, and theories started flying. Carlee’s parents appeared on morning shows on CBS and the like, stating they are still shaken up about their child’s alleged abduction, and were upset that people were doubting her.
When police revealed her internet searches the day prior to her going missing involved the movie “Taken” and “amber alerts”, and that she allegedly took a robe and toilet paper from her job the day of her disappearance, things started to get VERY questionable.
In the days before her disappearance, authorities said 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 to Nashville, Tennessee.
“I do think it’s highly unusual the day that someone gets kidnapped that seven or eight hours before that they’re searching the internet, Googling the movie ‘Taken’ about an abduction,” Derzis said. “I find that very, very strange.”
Sadly, those doubts became facts, because Carlee eventually admitted to police that there was no kidnapping.
On Monday, Carlee’s attorney Emory Anthony told police she would be ready to speak with them in the afternoon. Instead, Anthony delivered a written statement to investigators on her behalf instead. The statement, which Derzis read aloud, offered an apology for Russell’s actions but failed to provide a reason for the fabrication.
“There was no kidnapping on July 13, 2023. 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. 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 at any hotel with anyone from the time she was missing.
“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, 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. Carlee, again, asks for your forgiveness and prayers.”
Folks have been calling this the Tubi version of “Gone Girl” and we can’t even…….
By the way, the $63K raised for her search will be refunded, according to reports.
Theories have been flying about what could possibly have led to Carlee concocting such a wild tale of her own alleged abduction. Because, something had to set off this type of foolywang material. Apparently, her boyfriend – now EX boyfriend – is rumored to be at the center of her reasoning.
A few tweets of Carlee’s were exposed, that were posted about 5 days before her kidnapping, that possibly hinted toward a break-up to make-up situation between her and University of Alabama grad Thomar Simmons (pictired above).
He posted a long, heartfelt message – that had some scratching their heads – during her search, pouring out his heart about ho the love of his life needs to be found. He did a complete 180 though, once it was revealed Carlee made up the whole thing:
Suffice it to say, he’s DONE done.
Photos: Hoover PD, Carlee Russell’s IG