Alabama Woman Whose Bizarre 'Abduction' Caught National Attention Now Admits She Made It All Up

Brittany M. Hughes | July 25, 2023
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An Alabama woman whose bizarre temporary disappearance caught the nation’s attention earlier this month is now admitting she mad up the entire thing – but the “why” still remains a mystery.

It all started when 25-year-old Carlee Russell called 911 on the night of July 13 saying she was on a highway in Hoover, Alabama and had seen a toddler walking next to the road. She told dispatch she was planning on stopping and helping the child before she hung up and called a family member, repeating the same story. That family member told police she then heard Russell scream and the call dropped.

Obviously thinking something horrible had happened, Russell’s family, friends, and the authorities launched a massive search to find the young woman, an effort estimated to have costs tens of thousands of dollars. Russell's brother took to social media telling the story and claiming it wasn't getting enough national attention, and "we all know why," suggesting Russell - who is black - was being ignored because of her race.

Then, two days later, Russell showed up on a relative’s doorstep – and her story got even more bizarre. The New York Times summarizes:

Upon her return, Ms. Russell told investigators that she had been forced into a car and then into an eighteen-wheeler before she escaped, only to be abducted again and put in a car, the police said. Ms. Russell said she was then held in a house and put in another car before she escaped and ran home through the woods.

Meanwhile, her family continued to tell local news outlets they believed Russell's story and that her kidnapper was still at large.

There was just one problem: investigators couldn’t find any evidence that any of Russell's strange story had happened, nor could they understand how she had seen a young child alongside a heavily-trafficked highway but no one else reported the same sight. What they did find, however, is that Russell had spent the several days prior to her “abduction” googling Amber Alerts and researching the movie “Taken,” which centers on a girl being kidnapped and her father’s efforts to rescue her.

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On Monday, Russell’s lawyer, Emory Anthony, said his client had admitted to fabricating the entire story, but declined to say why Russell had made up such a wild tale or disclose where she was during the two days she'd said she was being held hostage.

"There was no kidnapping on Thursday, July 13, 2023," Anthony said. "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. My client was not with anyone or any hotel with anyone from the time she was missing. My client apologizes for her actions to this community, the volunteers who were searching for her, to the Hoover Police Department and other agencies as well and to her friends and family. 

“We ask for your prayers for Carlee as she addresses her issues and attempts to move forward understanding that she made a mistake in this matter,” Anthony penned in a letter read by the chief of the Hoover Police Department at a news conference on Monday, adding, “Carlee again asks for your forgiveness.”

Well that’s nice. And the taxpayers should ask for their money back - seeing as falsely telling the police you were kidnapped is a bit more that just a "mistake."

Police say they're considering what charges, if any, they might file against Russell, as filing a false police report in Alabama is a misdemeanor. 

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