Police in Hoover, Alabama still don’t know Carlee Russell’s whereabouts during the 49 hours she was missing in mid-July.
Russell, 24, was charged Friday with misdemeanor false reporting of an incident and false reporting to law enforcement after she dialed 911 on July 13 at around 9:34 p.m. to report that there was a toddler on the side of Interstate 459 in diapers. When police arrived, Russell was nowhere to be seen.
She returned home on July 15 at around 10:45 p.m. near where police say she was seen walking along the sidewalk beforehand.
Russell’s attorney, Emery Anthony, said in an emailed statement to the Hoover Police Department that his client admitted to never seeing a baby on Interstate 459.
“My client did not have any help in this incident. This was a single act done by herself,” the statement said. “My client was not with anyone or any hotel with anyone from the time she was missing. 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 and to her friends and family.”
Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis said during a press conference on Friday that police are still unclear of what exactly Russell was doing during the 49 hours she was missing.
“We don’t have any idea where Carlee Russell was [during those] 49 hours,” Derzis said.
Derzis said that he “shares the same frustration” with members of the public who believe Russell is being given a slap on the wrist.
“Existing laws only allow the charges that were filed to be filed,” Derzis said. “I can tell you that I will be contacting our state legislatures on behalf of law enforcement in Montgomery and asking them to look at this law applied to these facts and urge them to add an enhancement to current legislation when somebody falsely reports kidnaping or another violent crime.”
Anthony said in an interview with reporters on Friday that the public should accept his client’s apology.
“We would like to ask the viewers to accept Carlee’s apology,” Anthony said. “Keep her in your prayers and understand that we all are not perfect.”
Russell allegedly told police in an earlier interview that a man with orange hair came out of the woods to check on the toddler, but picked up Russell and made her go over a nearby fence.
Russell said that the man allegedly “forced her into a car” and the last thing she recalls is being inside the trailer of an 18-wheeler.
The man, according to Russell, had orange hair with a bald spot on the back of his head. She said that she was able to escape from the truck and fled the area on foot, but was captured again and placed into a car.
Russell then claimed she was blindfolded but “not tied up” since her alleged captor didn’t want to leave wrist imprints. Russell then told police she was taken by people to a house and forced to get undressed and believes pictures were taken of her.
She also allegedly told police that the individuals didn’t have any sexual contact with her.
The following day after being taken, according to Russell’s conversation with police, she woke up and was “fed cheese crackers by the female.”
“She said the woman also played with her hair but could not remember anything else,” Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis said of the interview with Russell. “At some point, she was put back in a vehicle she claims was able to escape while it was in the West Hoover area. She told detectives she ran through lots of woods, just came out near her residence.”