Who is Carlee Russell? 5 Facts On Woman Who Faked Kidnapping – Hollywood Life

Carlee Russell: 5 Things About The Woman Charged In Kidnapping Hoax

The Alabama resident claimed she saw a toddler on the side of the road before she was abducted and found her way back to her parents' home two days later. She's been charged with 2 misdemeanors.

Reading Time: 7 minutes
View gallery
Image Credit: David Zalubowski/AP/Shutterstock

  • Carlee Russell is an Alabama woman who went missing on July 13.
  • She received national attention as many concerned citizens held prayer circles and searches for her safe return.
  • Carlee returned home safely on foot on July 15 and an open investigation had many people questioning just what happened before she admitted her story wasn’t true.
  • On July 28, she was charged with 2 misdemeanors in the case.

Carlee Russell, 25, a resident from Hoover, AL, went missing on July 13, after placing a 911 call about spotting a wandering toddler on the side of the I-459 highway. Her alleged abduction became national news as her parents pleaded for people to help with her safe return, and her disappearance prompted a large police and volunteer search for two days. $62,000 was even raised to Crime Stoppers to help bring her safely home. After Carlee showed up to her parents’ house on the night of July 15, she was reportedly taken to a hospital to get checked out, but no details about her condition or what exactly had happened were released until a press conference from Hoover Police was held on July 19.

The press conference answered a lot of unknowns about the case, which is still being openly investigated, but it also sparked a lot of speculation about whether or not Carlee was actually abducted in the first place. The police played the 911 call for the first time, which gave more insight into exactly what she saw before disappearing, at the conference, and they also gave details about what Carlee told them had happened after she returned home. The authorities also gave shocking details about Carlee’s Google search history, which included research about Amber Alerts, stealing money from a cash register, and details about the 2008 movie, Taken, in the days leading up to her disappearance and on the actual day she went missing.

On July 24, another press conference was held and Hoover Police read a statement Carlee gave to her lawyer, Emory Anthony. “My client has given me permission to make the following statement on her behalf. There was no kidnapping on Thursday, July 13th, 2023. My client did not see a baby on the side of the road,” the police chief read, which can be seen below. “My client did not leave the Hoover area when she was identified as a missing person. My client didn’t have any help, this was a single act. My client was not with anyone, or not at a hotel with anyone. My client apologizes for her actions. Ask for prayers for Carlee as she addresses her issues and attempts to move forward, ask for forgiveness.”

On July 28, Carlee turned herself in to police in Hoover, Alabama, and has now been charged with two misdemeanors, per PEOPLE. The charges are for falsely reporting an incident and false reporting to law enforcement. Carlee could spend a year in prison for each of the offenses and finds of upwards of $6,000, according to the outlet.

Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis reportedly expressed disappointment that the charges were not felonies. “I share the frustration, but existing laws only allow the 2 charges that were filed to be filed,” he said, according to PEOPLE. “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, numerous law enforcement agencies, both local and federal, began working tirelessly — not only to bring Carlee home to her family and locate a kidnapper we know now that never existed. The story opened wounds for families of loved ones who were really victims of kidnapping, some of which even helped organize searches in hopes of finding Carlee alive, so their family wouldn’t feel the pain and suffering they felt when their loved ones never returned home.”

Find out more about Carlee and the facts about her formerly alleged abduction case below.

Carlee is a nursing student and works at a spa.

Carlee was attending Jefferson State Community College at the time of her disappearance, according to AL.com. She was also working at Woodhouse Spa Birmingham, which is where she was before heading to a few stores and then the I-459 highway, where she claims to have spotted a wandering toddler.

Carlee claimed she was trying to help a toddler in her 911 call.

Around 9:34pm on July 13, Carlee called 911 and said she saw a toddler, presumed to be a boy, wearing a white shirt and diaper wandering alone in the woods nearby. She pulled over with her hazard lights on and was advised by the 911 operator to stay there until help arrived. She then hung up with the operator and proceeded to call a family member to let them know about the toddler as well. During that phone call, Carlee got out of her car and allegedly walked toward the woods before the family member heard a scream and then silence, with the line still open. Police later arriving on the scene found Carlee’s wig and phone on the ground near her car, and her purse in her car, but they didn’t find Carlee or a toddler.

During the recent press conference, Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis confirmed that during her 911 call, Carlee drove 600 yards, the length of six football fields, and didn’t stop in one spot, despite telling the operator she was looking at the toddler and keeping track of him while still in her car. He also confirmed that Carlee was the only one to report a wandering toddler in that location on that night. The authorities also revealed that after tracing Carlee’s footsteps that night, they found out that she left her job at the spa with a roll of toilet paper and a bathrobe before she stopped at The Colonnade, which is about 10 minutes from her house, according to her parents, Talitha and Carlos Russell, to pick up food she ordered, and then Target to get “snack food type items” that included “granola bars” and “Cheez-Its.” The “takeout food” was found in her car when police arrived after her disappearance, but the snack food items were not. The bathrobe and toilet paper she took from her work were also missing from the car.

She told police she was abducted by a man and woman who had a baby.

After Carlee returned home on foot by herself on the night of Saturday, she briefly spoke with Hoover Police and told them that after she got out of her vehicle to check on the toddler, she saw a man come out of the trees who “mumbled that he was checking on the baby, then picked her up and took her over a fence and into a car.”

“She said the next thing she remembered was being in the trailer of an 18-wheeler, and that there was a female whose voice she heard but who she didn’t see,” Chief Derzis continued in the press conference. “She told detectives she could hear a baby crying, and that the male had orange hair.”

Carlee also told detectives that she had escaped from the pair but was then recaptured. She claimed they then “blindfolded her but didn’t tie her up because they didn’t want to leave compression marks.” She said they made her strip and photographed her body but they didn’t physically or sexually abuse her. She also claimed she eventually found a way to escape for good and found herself in a wooded area before finding her way back home to her parents’ house.

Her Google search history contained suspicious activity that related to traveling and info on abductions.

One of the most shocking things Chief Derzis revealed during the press conference was that authorities had looked at Carlee’s Google search history in the days leading up to her disappearance as well as on the day of her disappearance, and the results were disturbing. Some of the search topics included the questions, “Do you have to pay for an Amber alert?” and “How to take money from a register without being caught?” Another search was about a “Birmingham bus station” and a “one-way ticket from Birmingham to Nashville.” Terms related to kidnapping and disappearances were also researched as well as the 2008 movie Taken, which is about a former government operative who is trying to reconnect with his daughter when slavers suddenly abduct her and her friend shortly after they arrive in Paris, France for a vacation.

Her alleged boyfriend said she fought ‘for her life’ in a post, but then deleted it.

Shortly after Carlee’s safe return made headlines, her alleged boyfriend, Thomar Latrell Simmons, took to his Instagram to share a post about her. “She was literally fighting for her life for 48 hours, so until she’s physically & mentally stable again she is not able to give any updates or whereabouts on her kidnapper at this very moment,” he wrote in the post, according to Yahoo News. “All I [ask] from everyone right now is to be respectful of Carlee’s situation.”

On July 19, many people noticed that Thomar had deleted the post and other posts and/or photos relating to Carlee were no longer on his page. His comments were also disabled, so it’s unclear where he stands with Carlee, as the investigation into her disappearance remains open.