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Carlee Russell: Woman who sparked nationwide search after abduction charge is charged

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An Alabama woman who admitted to lying about being kidnapped has been charged.

Carlee Russell who claimed she was abducted by a man and a woman after stopping to check on a toddler who was walking on the side of a busy highway, confessed that the whole scenario was untrue.

The 25-year-old had called 911 shortly before disappearing on 13 July – sparking a nationwide search – but she returned home 49 hours later.

Russell, who is a nursing student, also made up that she was forced into a huge truck and taken to a home where a man and a woman told her to get undressed and then took photos of her.

She now faces two charges – falsely reporting an incident and falsely reporting to law enforcement.

Russell posted a bond of $2,000 (£1,556) and was released from jail, but could face a year in prison and a $6,000 (£4,668) fine if convicted of the charges.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said “we intend to fully prosecute this case”, adding his office will monitor the investigation for potential further charges.

Mr Marshall said Russell’s hoax was not a “victimless crime” pointing to the “significant hours spent” and “resources expended” in the search for her.

Carlee Russell. Pic: Hoover Police Department
Image:
Carlee Russell. Pic: Hoover Police Department

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Police chief Nicholas Derzis said her “decisions that night created panic and alarm” for people in the Alabama city of Hoover and nationwide as “concern grew that a kidnapper was on the loose using a small child as bait”.

Mr Derzis added: “The story opened wounds for families whose loved ones really were victims of kidnappings, some of which even helped organise searches.”

He also said investigators were unable to corroborate many of her claims.

However, he said that during the course of the investigation, officials searched on her phone on how to take money from a register without getting caught and about the kidnapping movie Taken.

Before doubts over her story emerged, her mother Talitha had told NBC News: “There were moments when she physically had to fight for her life, and there were moments when she had to mentally fight for her life. She made it back.”

In a statement read out on Monday, Russell’s lawyer made clear that “there was no kidnapping” on 13 July and that she “did not leave the Hoover area when she was identified as a missing person”.

It also said: “My client did not have any help in this incident. This was a single act done by herself.”

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