HOOVER, Ala. — Police on Friday announced charges against Carlee Russell, the Alabama woman who admitted to faking her own abduction after she was reported missing earlier this month.
Authorities launched a search for Russell, 25, after she vanished on July 13 following a 911 call in which she claimed to have seen a toddler walking on the side of Interstate 459 in Hoover. She returned home two days later and claimed that she had been abducted.
Police release Russell’s mug shot
Update 3:30 p.m. EDT July 28: Hoover police released Russell’s mug shot on Friday afternoon after she was arrested on charges of false reporting to law enforcement authorities and falsely reporting an incident.
Prosecutor: More charges possible
Update 2:40 p.m. EDT July 28: Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said prosecutors will continue to monitor Russell’s case “to determine whether or not there are any additional charges that need to be brought.”
“We’ll evaluate those as the facts are presented,” he said.
Hoover Police Chief Nicholas Derzis did not rule out the possibility that Russell’s parents might face charges.
“As the attorney general said, their team will also be searching through our files, and we’ll find out what they say,” he said.
‘We don’t see this as a victimless crime,’ state attorney general says
Update 2:35 p.m. EDT July 28: Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said authorities “intend to fully prosecute” the case against Russell.
“We don’t see this as a victimless crime,” he said at a news conference on Friday.
“We don’t see this as a victimless crime. There are significant hours spent (and) resources expended as a result of this investigation, and not only that, but the many men and women who are civilians who wore those yellow vests on a hot afternoon and evening, looking for someone they thought was abducted, trying to be of assistance.”
Police: Russell faces 2 charges; turned herself in
Update 2:20 p.m. EDT July 28: Russell turned herself in to authorities on Friday to face charges of false reporting to law enforcement authorities and falsely reporting an incident, Police Chief Nicholas Derzis said. Both charges are misdemeanors that carry maximum sentences of one year each, upon conviction.
Russell was released from jail after posting bond, Derzis said.
‘Her decisions that night created panic and alarm,’ police chief says
Update 2:10 p.m. EDT July 28: At a news conference on Friday, Chief Nicholas Derzis said police got warrants for Russell’s arrest earlier in the day “for her actions related to faking her kidnapping and subsequently making false statements to detectives as they investigated this case.”
“Her decisions that night created panic and alarm for the citizens of our city, and even across the nation, as the concern grew that a kidnapper was on the loose using a small child as bait,” Derzis said.
“Numerous law enforcement agencies, both local and federal, began working tirelessly not only to bring Carlee home to her family, but locate a kidnapper that we know now never existed. Many private citizens volunteered their time and energy into looking for a potential kidnapping victim that we know now was never in any danger.”
Original report: Police said in a post on social media that they plan to hold a news conference on Friday afternoon. The update is expected one day after prosecutors told news outlets that police were considering a pair of charges for Russell.
On Monday, in a statement issued by her attorney, Russell apologized and admitted that she had lied about being kidnapped. At a news conference, Chief Nicholas Derzis said police were talking to prosecutors about Russell’s case to determine any possible charges.
“We will announce those charges when and if they are filed,” he said.
On Thursday, Jefferson County Chief Assistant District Attorney Lane Tolbert told ABC News and Fox News Digital that authorities were seeking two charges against Russell: falsely reporting an incident and false reporting to law enforcement authorities. Both charges are misdemeanors that carry maximum sentences of one year in jail.
It was not immediately clear why Russell faked her abduction. On Monday, her attorney asked people for their “prayers for Carlee as she addresses her issues and attempts to move forward, understanding that she made a mistake in this matter.”