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Carlee Russell

Source: Hoover Police Department / Hoover PD

Carlee Russell pleaded guilty to charges of faking her kidnapping last year in Alabama, avoiding jail time as a result.

Last Thursday (March 21), Carlee Russell was at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Bessemer, Alabama, to address the court after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges related to filing a false police report. “I made a grave mistake while trying to fight through various emotional issues and stress,” the nursing student said inside a Bessemer courtroom during her sentencing, acknowledging that she’s undergoing counseling while adding:

“I am extremely remorseful for the panic, fear, and various range of negative emotions that were experienced across the nation,” she said. “I want to specifically acknowledge and take accountability for the pain and embarrassment that I inflicted upon my family, my church family, friends, neighbors, community, and all those who were directly involved in search efforts for me.”

As a result of the plea deal that was reached after she was found guilty in October 2023, Russell will not serve any time in jail but will have to serve 100 hours of community service to go with one year of supervised probation. The 26-year-old will also have to pay nearly $18,000 in restitution to the city of Hoover, Alabama. The city’s police chief was not happy with the decision. “It’s a slap on the wrist. You pay the money and move on,” HPD chief Nick Derzis said afterward. “The other thing, if you’re not going to give her jail time then let’s finish the puzzle, get that one piece: Where were you for 49 hours and who helped you?” he added. “We’ll never find out.”

Russell made national headlines after vanishing mysteriously last July after phoning 911 to report a toddler in a diaper wandering next to a highway. Officers dispatched to the site found her vehicle and some personal items. Russell returned home after 49 hours of being missing. An investigation by the Hoover Police Department would later find that she had Googled terms like “Do you have to pay for an Amber Alert?” before confessing her kidnapping was a hoax. Currently, there is legislation in the Alabama State House to make false reporting of a crime a felony if it poses an imminent danger to the public and depletes municipal resources.

Carlee Russell Pleads Guilty To Kidnapping Hoax, Avoids Jail  was originally published on