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  • Lacrystal Parker

Carlee Russell admits there was no abduction or baby on I-459; apologizes to Hoover police

Updated: Jul. 24, 2023, 4:34 p.m.|

Carlee Russell has admitted to Hoover police that she was not abducted from the side of Interstate 459 when she said she stopped to check on a toddler walking alone. Her attorney, Emory Anthony, sent this statement to Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis Monday morning:

“My client has given me permission to make the following statement on her behalf: There was no kidnapping on July 13, 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, but this was a single act done by herself,’' Anthony wrote. “My client was not with anyone or at any hotel during the time she was missing,’' Anthony said. “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,’' the attorney said in the statement. “We ask for your prayers for Carlee as she addresses her issues and intends to move understanding that she made a mistake,’' Anthony said. “Carlee again asks for your forgiveness and prayers.” Anthony has not said where Russell spent the 48-plus hours she was gone. Anthony told that Russell told him she was not at the Red Roof Inn, which has been widely reported on social media.

No charges have been filed against Russell. Derzis said they have a meeting scheduled with Anthony on Tuesday to further discuss the case. Derzis said police are in discussions with the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office in the Bessemer Cutoff about possible criminal charges. ”We will announce those charges when, and if, they are filed,’’ the chief said.

Derzis said he does not know why Russell fabricated the disappearance. ”I wish I could tell you,’’ he said. “I think only Carlee knows, and maybe her attorney knows now.” Derzis said they will ask Anthony for an opportunity to interview Russell. The chief said he is glad Russell at least released a statement. ”The sad thing is there were so many people involved and took this thing very, very seriously and, again, we wanted the focus to be to bring her home and she got home. We’re very excited about that,” Derzis said. ”It is what it is,’’ he said. “We know that it was a hoax.” Derzis has not released a dollar amount that the search cost, but said it was, “All hands on deck.” ”We don’t have a dollar figure yet but we’re certainly working on getting one and not only ours, but the other agencies that gave us a lot of support,’’ he said.

”We still don’t know what happened during those 49 hours, where she was, did she have any help,’’ he said. ”This was an elaborate deal,’’ Derzis said. “I was hoping we’d have an opportunity to interview her and ask her those questions.”

The statement, he said, does not alter their investigation but he’s happy to have it. ”It at least puts some of the social media super sleuths hopefully to rest for a little bit,’’ he said. “We now by her own admission it didn’t happen and we’re thankful for that.” Russell seemingly vanished Thursday, July 13, after calling 911, and a family member, to report seeing a child, about 3 or 4 years old only wearing a diaper, walking alone on the busy interstate.

The family member reported hearing a scream, and then only interstate noise through the open cell phone line.

The disappearance of the 25-year-old Russell, a nursing student, sparked a massive search and widespread concern. Two days later, Russell showed up alone at her parents Hoover home. She was taken to UAB Hospital for evaluation. While at UAB Hospital, Russell told Hoover police she escaped the clutches of a man and woman who snatched her from the side of Interstate 459 two nights earlier, officials. Authorities were able to determine that Russell left her job at Woodhouse Day Spa – from which she has since been fired – after taking a robe, toilet paper and a small amount of cash.

She ordered food from Taziki’s at The Colonnade and traveled there. Carlee then traveled to Target on Highway 280 where she bought some granola bars, Cheez-its, and a drink.

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