Carlee Russell charged for faking kidnapping, lying to police

Published 3:10 pm Friday, July 28, 2023

The Alabama woman faked her own kidnapping has been charged criminally related to lying to police.

Carlee Russell, 26, was charged with falsifying information provided to law enforcement after she disappeared on July 13, after claiming to have stopped to help a small child on Interstate 459 in Hoover, Alabama.

She vanished for 49 hours before reappearing at her parents house. She told police she’d been kidnapped, but police later said her story could not be verified and openly suggested the story was fabricated.

Russell bonded out on $2,000 bond.

Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis held a press conference Friday afternoon.

“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,” the police chief said, as he announced Russell’s charges.

Derzis said Russell’s actions unnecessarily caused panic.

“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 know now never existed. Many private citizens volunteered their time and energy into looking for a potential kidnapping victim that we know now was never in any danger.

“As we all know, actions can have consequences and that’s why we are here today,” Derzis said.

Each of her two misdemeanor charges carry up to a year in jail, the chief said.

“Judging from the amount of phone calls and emails we have received from people all across the country, I know many are shocked and appalled that Ms. Russell is only being charged with two misdemeanors, despite all of the panic and disruption her actions caused.

“Let me assure you, I too, share the same frustration, but existing laws only allow the charges that were filed to be filed.

Derzis said he will contact lawmakers to add an enhancement to the law when someone falsely reports kidnapping or another violent crime.