Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall plans to seek restitution from 24-year-old Carlee Russell if she’s convicted of falsely reporting to Hoover police that she was abducted after she spotted a toddler wandering alone on the interstate.
As BizPac Review has reported, Russell’s story went viral after the nursing student and spa employee went missing for roughly two days following a call to 911 to report the child.
— BPR based (@DumpstrFireNews) July 22, 2023
Surveillance video from the Woodhouse Spa Birmingham caught Russell apparently lifting a “dark-colored bathrobe, a roll of toilet paper” and other items belonging to her employer before making the call to police dispatchers. She was subsequently fired from her job.
Russell suddenly reappeared on June 15 and told officers that a man forced her into a car “and the next thing she remembers is being in the trailer of an 18-wheeler.”
In an emailed statement to Fox News Digital, Russell’s attorney, Emery Anthony, said his client confessed to making up the entire, bizarre story.
“My client did not have any help in this incident. This was a single act done by herself,” Anthony wrote. “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.”
— BPR based (@DumpstrFireNews) July 21, 2023
“Sorry” isn’t going to cut it for Marshall.
Following her two misdemeanor charges — “false reporting of an incident and false reporting to law enforcement” — he vowed to seek restitution.
“That’s our intention if we’re able to gain a conviction, to be able to seek restitution,” Marshall said. “It is no doubt that part of the role that we have in this case is not only develop the facts to present before the prosecution, but also to develop an argument relating to restitution.”
The Alabama Attorney General’s office will be contacting those agencies that devoted time and resources to the search for Russell and the phantom toddler to see if they are looking to recoup investigative costs, Marshall said.
“Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis said on Friday that Marshall’s office has agreed to ‘adopt this case,'” Fox News Digital reports.
The A.G. voiced his concern for the damage “crying wolf” can cause to future investigations.
“The thing that I think is the most harmful is the many members of the general public that came forward in response to the concern there was an abduction of a young female and trying to find her,” he said. “And I think the concern there is similar to the old crying wolf story, right? Will you have that same public outpouring of help in the future if this arises?”
“And one thing I know about the people of Alabama is they are charitable and good folks and they want to be able to help their neighbor,” he added, saying that the Russell case is a “reflection of the lengths law enforcement will go in investigating a case and their willingness to follow the facts.”
Derzis, meanwhile, noted on Friday that police still don’t know what, exactly, Russell was doing during her 49-hour disappearance trick.
“We don’t have any idea where Carlee Russell was [during those] 49 hours,” he said at a press conference.
The police chief said he “shares the same frustration” with those who say the former spa worker was 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 kidnapping or another violent crime.”
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