Alabama nursing student Carlee Russell admitted that she was not kidnapped and that there was no baby on the highway, whom she claimed she “helped” before going missing.
The Hoover Police Department held a press conference on July 24 (US time) to share Carlee’s statement, as provided by her attorney Emory Anthony.
"There was no kidnapping on Thursday, July 13th, 2023," the statement began. "My client did not see a baby on the side of the road, my client did not leave the Hoover area which she was identified as a missing person,” it added.
“My client did not have help in this incident, that 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,” the statement continued.
Attorney Anthony, on behalf of Carlee, expressed their apologies and asked for the public’s prayers and forgiveness.
“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 as to her friends and family,” the statement read.
“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,” it continued. “Carlee, again, asks for your forgiveness and prayers.”
The 25-year-old made headlines the past week after she was reported missing for 49 hours. According to early reports, she called 911 for help after she saw a toddler walking on the side of the highway on July 13.
After making the call, she “stopped to check on the child and called a family member to report the same details. The family member lost contact with her, but the line remained open,” as stated in the police statement. With this, nationwide efforts were made for her search.
The authorities responded to the call, where they found her car and her other belongings in the area, but Carlee and the toddler were not present at the scene. The police also stated that they did not receive any reports of any missing child, other than Carlee.
On July 15, the authorities received a call that Carlee returned to her home in Alabama. She was transported to the local hospital for assessment.
According to the report by NBC News, Carlee told the police that she was forced into an 18-wheeler truck, where “a man and a woman told her to get undressed and then took photos of her.”
The authorities also investigated Carlee's phone to determine what happened before her disappearance, where they found her internet searches about Amber Alerts (an app that would notify the public about a kidnapping), how to get money from a register without getting caught, and the movie Taken.
Hoover Police Chief Nicholas C. Derzis shared with the media that although he was glad that Carlee is home, he expressed his dismay since many people got involved in the case.
"I'm glad we got this. We certainly laid the facts out to you guys. The sad thing is, there were so many people that were involved and took this thing very very seriously, we wanted the focus to be bringing her home, we're excited about that,” he said.
On Carlee’s possible charges, Chief Derzis said that it will be up to the district attorney's office. He also said that they are currently investigating what happened in the estimated 49 hours that Carlee went "missing."