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Carlee Russell says she lied about seeing a lost child and being abducted

Alabama nursing student Carlee Russell, 25, apologized and asked for prayer after lying about being abducted earlier this month.
Hoover Police Department
Alabama nursing student Carlee Russell, 25, apologized and asked for prayer after lying about being abducted earlier this month.

Carlee Russell, the Alabama woman who went missing for two days after telling 911 that she found a stranded toddler, has admitted that she was not kidnapped and did not see a young child on the side of the highway.

In a statement given by Russell's attorney to the Hoover Police Department, the 25-year-old apologized for her actions, adding that no one else was involved in her disappearance.

"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," Hoover's police chief, Nick Derzis, read from the statement at a press conference on Monday afternoon.

Russell was initially expected to meet with the police earlier that day. Instead, her attorney, Emory Anthony, gave the department a written update.

It remains unclear why Russell fabricated a story of a stranded child, as well as why she went off radar for two days.

No criminal charges have been yet filed against Russell. Derzis said he is discussing the matter with the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office.

Russell initially told detectives that she was abducted

Russell went missing on July 13 after telling a 911 dispatcher that she found a toddler wandering on the side of an interstate, according to the police. When officers arrived on scene, Russell and the child was nowhere to be found. But her car, wig and cellphone were on the roadway.

Russell's disappearance and the mysterious circumstances around it grabbed the country's attention before she returned home on July 15.

At the time, Russell told detectives that she was kidnapped by a man who emerged from the trees near her car when she got out to check on the child. She described being blindfolded and taken to a house where she was forced to get undressed. The next day, Russell added, she managed to escape and ran through the woods until she emerged near her house.

Police say they knew Russell's story was a hoax since last week

Derzis said on Monday that the department believed since last week that Russell's kidnapping was a hoax.

At a press conference on Wednesday, police said Russell's online search history raised questions.

Two days before she went missing, Russell searched online whether you have to pay for an Amber Alert, according to Hoover Police. The day she was gone, Russell searched for local bus tickets as well as the abduction-based action movie Taken.

The police chief said on Wednesday that investigators found other concerning searches that shed light on Russell's state of mind prior to disappearance but the police were not releasing them out of respect for her privacy.

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Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.