Alabama nursing student Carlee Russell admitted on Monday that she had not been abducted earlier this month – as she apologized for the bizarre prank that sparked a massive two-day search.
“There was no abduction…my client did not see a baby,” Russell’s attorney, Emory Anthony, wrote in a statement read at a press conference Monday.
Anthony’s confirmation was read by Hoover Police Chief Nicholas Derzis.
Neither Anthony nor Russell were present.
“My client has not left the Hoover area. My client apologizes for her actions to this community…Carlee asks for your forgiveness and prayers.
Russell, 25, disappeared on the night of July 13, shortly after calling 911 to report a sighting of a toddler wearing a t-shirt and diaper walking barefoot on the 459 in Hoover.
She initially told police she would stay at the scene, but then abandoned the grate when she was heard screaming during a bizarre call to her sister-in-law.
After a two-day search, the Alabama nursing student showed up on her parents’ doorstep on July 15.
She was taken to hospital, where she was treated and released. She agreed to an interview with the police, but later stopped cooperating with the investigation.
Derzis said on Monday it was unclear where Russell actually was during the 49 hours she was reported “missing”.
No criminal charges have been filed at this time.
After returning, investigators discovered that Russell had Googled the action movie ‘Taken’ – which stars Liam Neeson as a CIA agent racing to save his daughter from kidnappers – on the day of his disappearance.
The searches also revealed that Russell had researched one-way tickets from Birmingham to Nashville and whether victims had to pay for AMBER alerts.
Russell, however, doubled down on her story and first told police she was abducted from the side of the road by a white man with orange hair, WESH reported.
The obvious flaws in the potential victim’s account were apparently confirmed when she was fired from the Woodhouse spa in Birmingham and her boyfriend deleted all evidence of her from his social media.
“We were a little pissed off, mostly because so many people took so long to search,” Woodhouse owner Stuart Rome told The Post last week of Russell’s co-workers’ reaction to his traumatic disappearance and reappearance.
Russell stole a bathrobe and toilet paper from the spa just hours before he went missing, police said.
She then stopped at a local Target store for snacks, which were not found in her vehicle after she disappeared.
“The only thing I can say is I want everyone to stop bullying her. I know what it’s like what she’s done. Just stop bullying on social media,” Russell’s boyfriend Thomar Latrell Simmons, who previously defended her against critics, told The Post over the weekend.
“Think about his mental health. She doesn’t deserve this. She doesn’t. No one deserves to be cyberbullied.
On Monday, Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama revealed that it will not reimburse those who contributed the $63,378 donated during the search for Russell.
“This investigation is still ongoing and, therefore, there is no reason to refund any contributions at this time. Additionally, the Hoover Police Department has not requested that donor contributions be released or refunded,” the citizen detective group said.
Bob Copus, the organization’s executive director, told AL.com last week that larger contributions have already been reimbursed.
The $25,000 set up by the Birmingham Board of Realtors and the $20,000 donated by an anonymous donor have been refunded, the outlet said.
In a moving interview with NBC News last week, Russell’s parents said their daughter “fought for her life” during her alleged ordeal and was “in poor condition” when she returned home.
So far, Russell’s parents have not been charged in connection with their daughter’s prank, Derzis said Monday.