Authorities reported on Friday that nursing student Carlee Russell is facing two misdemeanor charges (concocting a fraudulent report and supplying false information to law enforcement) for the apparent hoax of her supposed “kidnapping.”

Friday saw Russell’s voluntary submission to local law enforcement at the Hoover city jail. She was processed and subsequently released after the successful posting of $1,000 bail for each charge. A local traffic camera on Interstate 459 had captured images of Russell’s car proceeding slowly on the shoulder, emergency lights flashing, before coming to a stop—she subsequently vanished from public view on July 13.

The drama escalated when Russell placed a 911 call on the evening of July 13, reporting a toddler wandering alongside Interstate 459. But, two days later—approximately at 10:45 p.m. on July 15—Russell returned home; police affirm that she was spotted on foot in the vicinity before her reappearance.

An email from Russell’s attorney, Emery Anthony, to the Hoover Police Department revealed that Russell confessed to never having seen a child on the highway; the disappearance act was a singular endeavor, without assistance.

The ruse, which ignited fears of a potential child-snatcher in the area, compelled a fruitless search for nonexistent suspects and the phantom toddler.

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“This story opened wounds for families of loved ones who really were victims of kidnapping, some of which even helped organize searches in hopes they could find Carlee alive,” Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis said in a statement.

Regarding the criminal justice response, Chief Derzis noted that existing laws permit only misdemeanor charges in Russell’s case. He plans to lobby lawmakers for enhanced penalties for falsifying violent crime reports. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall was unequivocal about the gravity of Russell’s actions.

“We don’t see this as a victimless crime. There are significant hours spent, resources expended, as a result of this investigation,” Marshall said.

Despite her return, the details of Russell’s movements during her 49-hour absence remain murky. Her actions preceding the disappearance—procuring food from a local eatery, visiting a Target store, and removing items from her workplace, the Woodhouse Spa Birmingham—are known, yet the sequence of events during the purported abduction is largely speculative.

An unnerving footnote is that Russell had made several web searches relating to the Liam Neeson vehicle Taken prior to her disappearance, which only further complicates the mystery surrounding her actions.

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