Carlee Russell appears to be smiling in her police mugshot released on Friday, sparking anger online as the 25-year-old was charged after admitting she’d lied about being kidnapped.
The nursing student from Hoover, Alabama, went missing on July 13, shortly after calling police from Interstate 459 claiming she’d seen a lone toddler walking alongside the road. After 48 hours, Russell reappeared at her parents home claiming she had been kidnapped, but on Monday admitted this had been an elaborate hoax.
Russell was charged on Friday with two misdemeanors, false reporting to law enforcement and falsely reporting an incident, and bailed on a $2,000 bond. The Hoover Police Department published a mugshot of Russell, wearing a smart black top and seeming to smile toward the camera.
“Shameful mugshot!! Sadly she put her family in jeopardy…selfish. Lock her up…take that fake smile off her face…”
A third posted: “This is the mugshot of #CarleeRussell. Does this look like a woman who is sorry for creating a kidnapping hoax?? She looks like someone who is getting their school picture taken when in reality she’s getting her mugshot done.”
A fourth user posted a video of a woman applying a beauty treatment, mockingly adding the caption: “Carlee Russell right before heading out to take her mugshot.”
On Monday, a statement on behalf of Russell was read out by her attorney, Emery Anthony, admitting there “was no kidnapping on Thursday, July 13.”
It continued: “My client did not see a baby on the side of the road. My client did not leave the Hoover area when she was identified as a missing person. My client did not have any help in this incident, this was a single act done by herself.”
In the statement, Russell apologized “for her actions to this community, volunteers who were searching for her, to the Hoover Police Department and other agencies as well.”
It concluded: “Carlee, again, asks for your forgiveness and prayers.”
Russell had initially claimed she was kidnapped by a man with orange hair who “came out of the trees” whilst she was checking on the abandoned toddler, who also turned out to be fictitious. She said she was forced to strip by the man, who took photos of her, before escaping from a car and making her way back home.
Police revealed Russell made a number of suspicious Google searches in the days leading up to her disappearance, including asking whether “you have to pay for an amber [child abduction] alert” and asking: “How to take money from a register without being caught.”
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