UNITED STATES NEWS

Alabama woman who faked kidnapping pleads guilty to false reporting

Mar 21, 2024, 12:34 PM

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) —

An Alabama woman who claimed she was abducted after stopping her car to check on a wandering toddler on Thursday pleaded guilty to charges of giving false information to law enforcement.

News outlets reported that Carlee Russell pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of false reporting to law enforcement and falsely reporting an incident. She was given a suspended six-month sentence which will allow her to avoid jail. She was ordered to pay more than $17,000 restitution.

Her two-day disappearance, and her story of being abducted alongside an interstate highway, captivated the nation before police called her story a hoax.

Russell disappeared July 13 after calling 911 to report a toddler beside a stretch of Interstate 459 in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover. She returned home two days later and told police she had been abducted and forced into a vehicle.

Police quickly cast doubt on Russell’s story. Her attorney issued a statement through police acknowledging there was no kidnapping and that she never saw a toddler. In the statement, Russell apologized to law enforcement and the volunteers who searched for her.

Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis previously said he was frustrated that Russell was only being charged with two misdemeanors despite the panic and disruption she caused. He said the law did not allow for enhanced charges.

Alabama legislators this year are considering a bill that would enhance penalties for falsely reporting crimes.

United States News

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Alabama woman who faked kidnapping pleads guilty to false reporting