By ReShonda Tate,
The 25-year-old Alabama woman whose account of her mysterious 48-hour disappearance was questioned by police, has admitted she was not kidnapped.
According to a statement from her attorney, Carlee Russell, admitted to Hoover police that she was not abducted from the side of Interstate 459 when she said she stopped to check on a toddler walking alone.
“There was no kidnapping,” Emory Anthony, Russell’s attorney, said in a statement read by Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis. “This was a single act done by herself.”
Anthony said he was making the statement at his client’s request. It reads as follows:
“Dear Chief Derzis, my client has given me permission to make the following statement on her behalf: 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, but this was a single act done by herself. My client was not with anyone or at any hotel during the time she was missing,’’ Anthony said.
“My client apologizes for her actions to the community, the volunteers who were searching for her, to the Hoover Police Department and other agencies, as well as to her friends and family,’’ he continued in the statement.
“We ask for your prayers for Carlee as she addresses her issues and intends to move to understand that she made a mistake,’’ Anthony said. “Carlee again asks for your forgiveness and prayers.”
No word on where Russell spent the 48-plus hours that she was gone, though Anthony says she was not at the Red Roof Inn, as widely reported on social media.
No charges have been filed against Russell.
Previously, Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis said that authorities “owe it to our citizens to tell them the facts that we have uncovered.” He then listed a number of details that were inconsistent with the statement Russell allegedly gave police after her disappearance made national headlines. The nursing student had abandoned her car on the night of July 13, leaving behind her purse, cellphone and other belongings after calling 911 to say she had seen a toddler in a diaper walking along the busy highway. In a call to her relatives moments later, her mother said they heard her scream before going silent.
After a massive nationwide search involving the Hoover Police Department, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals, Russell returned home on foot. A 911 caller said that Russell was “unresponsive but breathing,” but police said she was conscious and speaking when first responders arrived. She was transported to a hospital. Before being treated and released, Russell told detectives an elaborate story about being abducted by a couple that night and fed Cheez-Its.
Authorities were able to determine that Russell left her job at Woodhouse Day Spa – from which she has since been fired – after taking a robe, toilet paper and a small amount of cash.
She ordered food from Taziki’s at The Colonnade and traveled there. Carlee then traveled to Target on Highway 280 where she bought some granola bars, Cheez-its, and a drink.
From there, she remained in the parking lot of that shopping center until 9:21 P.M. when she drove to I-459.
Russell called 911 at 9:34 p.m., reported seeing the child. After that she called her brother’s girlfriend, and it was during that conversation – about 9:36 p.m. – that she went missing.
Police said no one else ever reported seeing a toddler on the interstate.
Data from Russell’s phone, including her Life360 app, showed she traveled approximately 600 yards in her vehicle while she was on the phone with 911 stating she was following the child.
When police arrived, they found Russell’s wig, cell phone and purse on the roadway near her vehicle, and her Apple Watch was in her purse.
This article was originally published by the Houston Defender.