By Ryan Michaels
The Birmingham Times
Carlee Russell’s alleged abduction was a “hoax,” according to Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis, who read a letter from the 25-year-old’s attorney during a press conference on Monday.
Getting Russell home was the goal, Derzis said, but “the sad thing is that there were so many people that that were involved [in Carlee’s search], took this thing very seriously…the facts last Wednesday [that police laid out during a press conference] pretty much showed that we knew it was a hoax.”
Using information from Russell’s cell phone and her initial 911 call, Hoover Police said last week they were unable to verify some statements made by the 25-year-old and had no reason to believe that there is a threat of the public safety.
On Monday, the chief read from a letter penned by Birmingham lawyer Emory Anthony, representing Russell.
“There was no kidnapping on Thursday, July 13, 2023. My client did not see a baby on the side of the road. My client did not leave the Hoover area when was identified as a missing person,” Anthony wrote to Derzis.
The chief said Hoover police are meeting with the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office to discuss potential criminal charges against Russell and that police are still investigating Russell’s location and activity in the approximately 49-hour window she was missing.
While investigators were set to meet with Russell directly on Monday, Anthony instead provided gave a statement on Russell’s behalf and scheduled a meeting between himself and Hoover police for Tuesday, according to Derzis.
Russell did not have help from anyone in the fake kidnapping and apologized for misleading the public, according to the letter read by Derzis.
“My client apologizes for actions to this community, the volunteers who were searching for her, to the Hoover Police Department and other agencies, as well as to her friends and family. 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,” Anthony wrote to Derzis.
Getting Russell home was the goal, Derzis said, but “the sad thing is that there were so many people that that were involved [in Carlee’s search], took this thing very seriously…It is what it is.”
While he is “glad” to receive the statement from Anthony, Derzis said the letter has not changed the state of the investigation for Hoover police.
According to Hoover Police Department, Russell called 911 at about 9:34 p.m. on July 13 to report that a toddler was walking on the side of I-459. After getting off the phone with 911, Russell then called a family member as Russell stopped and checked on the toddler, according to police. Russell then reportedly disappeared not long after.
The 25-year-old returned home Saturday evening and was taken to UAB Hospital, police said.
Hoover police and the other agencies involved in the investigation since Russell went missing on July 13 are also currently working to tally a dollar amount for what was spent in their search for her, Derzis said.
“It at least puts put some of the social media super sleuths, hopefully, at rest for a little bit, as far as the conjecture of what everybody thinks took place. We know that, by her own admission, it didn’t happen, and we’re thankful for that,” Derzis said.