An Alabama woman whose claim of being kidnapped proved to be a hoax was charged with a crime Friday, as the local police chief expressed regrets.
Carlee Russell of Hoover was charged Friday with false reporting to law enforcement and falsely reporting an incident, according to Newsweek. Both charges are misdemeanors.
The nursing student could face a maximum of a $6,000 fine and a one-year jail sentence on each charge if she convicted. After turning herself into police, Russell was released on $2,000 bond.
“I know many are shocked and appalled that Miss Russell is only being charged with two misdemeanors despite all the panic and disruption her actions caused,” Hoover Police Chief Nicholas Derzis said.
Charges Filed Against Carlee Russell
Carlethia Nichole Russell 25-years-old Hoover, AL
• False Reporting to Law Enforcement Authorities $1,000 Bond
• Falsely Reporting an Incident $1,000 Bond
$2,000.00 Total Bond
— Hoover Police Dept (@HooverPD) July 28, 2023
“Let me assure you, I, too, share the same frustration. But existing laws only allow the charges that were filed to be filed,” he said.
“Actions can have consequences and that’s why we’re here today,” the police chief noted, according to WVTM-TV.
“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,” Derzis said, according to NBC.
“The story opened wounds for families whose loved ones really were victims of kidnappings, some of which even helped organize searches,” he said.
— Annie Elise x 10 to LIFE (@_10toLIFE) July 28, 2023
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said the hoax was serious business, according to Newsweek.
“We don’t see this as a victimless crime,” he said. “There are significant hours spent, resources expended as a result of this investigation.”
Russell initially phoned 911 at about 9:30 p.m. on July 13 saying she spotted a toddler walking along an interstate highway. By the time police, arrived, Russell was gone. Her disappearance provoked a massive search that attracted national attention.
On July 15, Russell returned home. She told police a man with orange hair and a bald spot, aided by a woman, forced her into a car. She later woke up in the back of a semi-truck. Russell told police she was forced to take her clothes off, and she thought her captors took pictures.
On Friday, Derzis said police do not know where Russell was during the time she went missing and have not confirmed she acted alone, according to WAGA-TV.
Through her lawyer, Russell released a statement of apology on Monday, according to Newsweek.
“My client apologizes for her actions to this community, volunteers who were searching for her, to the Hoover Police Department and other agencies as well,” the statement said.
“As 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. Carlee, again, asks for your forgiveness and prayers,” the statement said.
Russell’s attorney, Emory Anthony, said Friday: “All we can do now is wait for the court date and see how we go from there,” according to NBC.
When asked how Russell is handling the charges, he said: “She’s doing like anybody else charged with something. She realized that, although it’s two misdemeanors, it’s still a serious offense. She understands that.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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