The nation was left stunned by the news of a toddler spotted on the side of a bustling highway, with the subsequent mysterious disappearance of Carlee Russell adding to the intrigue. However, two days later, Russell reappeared at her home, leaving authorities questioning her abduction claims. In a turn of events, Russell has now come forward to admit that her initial abduction story was nothing more than an elaborate hoax. Contrary to her previous account, Russell now denies ever witnessing a toddler wandering along the busy interstate.
Originally, Russell's story emerged that she had seen a toddler alone on the side of a highway and stopped her car to check on the child’s well-being. According to Hoover police, Russell vanished after she phoned 911 just after 9:30 p.m. to report seeing a toddler on Interstate 459 South. She had also called a family member and said she was going to help the child before the family member lost contact with her.
However, police investigation and footage showed that the kidnapping story could not be verified. Russell had apparently searched for Amber Alerts and the movie "Taken" before she disappeared. Hoover Police Chief Nicholas Derzis read a statement that he said was furnished by Russell's attorney, Emory Anthony, admitting that a kidnapping never took place.
"My client has given me permission to make the following statement on her behalf. There was no kidnapping on Thursday, July 13th 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," the statement read.
Many people have questioned why someone would go to such lengths to lie about something so serious.
Jefferson County District Attorney's Bessemer Division office had a discussion with police about potential charges against Carlee Russell. According to ABC News, Chief Assistant District Attorney Lane Tolbert said on Thursday that “police may charge Russell with “falsely reporting an incident and false reporting to law enforcement authorities.”