Earlier today (July 28), authorities arrested and charged Carlee Russell with false reporting to law enforcement authorities and falsely reporting an incident. She has since been released after posting bail on both charges, each of which carry up to a year in jail.
The Alabama native’s current legal issues are the result of a highly publicized kidnapping hoax that took place between July 13 and July 15. Just prior to her 49-hour disappearance, the 26-year-old reported a toddler walking along a highway. Following her return, she claimed that a man “with orange hair” and a woman forced her into a trailer before taking her to a house where she was undressed and “fed cheese crackers.” This past Monday (July 24), Russell admitted that the entire story was made up in a statement shared by her lawyer. “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,” attorney Emory Anthony read.
“Her decisions that night created panic and alarm for the citizens of our city, and even across the nation as concern grew that a kidnapper was on the loose, using a small child as bait,” said Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis during the latest conference (above). “Numerous law enforcement agencies, both local and federal, began working tirelessly not only to bring Carlee home to her family, but locate a kidnapper that we now know never existed. Many private citizens volunteered their time and energy into looking for a potential kidnapping victim that we now know was never in any danger.”
The chief continued, “This story opened wounds for families who’s loved ones really were victims of kidnapping — some of which even helped organize searches in hopes that they could help Carlee’s family not experience the pain and suffering that they felt when their loved ones did not return home.”