Carlee Russell Found Guilty of 2 Misdemeanors Over Kidnapping Hoax

Russell appeared in court on Wednesday, where she was found guilty for her staged kidnapping that made national headlines back in July.

View this video on YouTube

Carlee Russell, the Alabama woman who claimed to be abducted, has been found guilty for two misdemeanors related to a staged kidnapping in July.

Despite Russell's not-guilty plea, Judge Thomas Brad Bishop found her guilty on both charges on Wednesday, which include false reporting to law enforcement and falsely reporting an incident. The state recommended a maximum sentence of one year of jail (six months for each charge), a fine of $831, and restitution of $17,974.88.

The case is set to be appealed to the circuit court.

The incident occurred on July 13 when Russell, 26, called 911 to report a toddler walking along I-459. First responders found Russell’s car still running on the side of the road with her phone inside, initiating a massive search operation that drew national attention. 

However, she returned home on foot on the evening of July 15 after being missing for 49 hours. At the time, Russell claimed that a man with orange hair had abducted her and forced her into an 18-wheeler, but that she managed to escape before being recaptured. She alleged that she was able to escape after another attempt and made her way back home.

An investigation revealed that Russell had searched for information related to AMBER Alerts, the movie Taken, and the price of bus tickets from Birmingham. Eventually, she admitted to fabricating the situation through a statement from her attorney, Emory Anthony. Russell turned herself in to Hoover Police on July 28 and posted a $2,000 bond.

Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis expressed frustration at the lack of harsher charges for such incidents, given the panic and resource consumption they generate. “It’s the same as someone who goes out and maybe shoplifts less than $500 worth of merchandise. It’s the same penalty, and I just think there needs to be some sort of enhancement when you’re talking about being kidnapped and you’ve been a victim of a serious crime,” Derzis told FOX 6.

Latest in Life