US Woman Who Went Viral On TikTok For Claiming To Be Kidnapped Admits It Was All A Hoax

Carlee Russell, the US woman whose story went viral after she was allegedly kidnapped from the side of an Alabama highway, has admitted she made up the whole thing.

In a statement shared by her lawyer, the 26-year-old came clean.

“There was no kidnapping on Thursday, July 13, 2023,” Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis said at a press conference on Monday.

“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.

“This was a single act done by herself. My client was not with anyone or any hotel with anyone from the time she was missing.

“My client apologises 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.

“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. Carlee again asks for your forgiveness and prayers,” he concluded.

Before her admission, police had discovered that Russell had searched for information about Amber Alerts, the system in place to locate missing children in the United States, along with the kidnapping movie Taken. These searches sparked suspicions among police.

Derzis has stated that the authorities have a meeting with Russell and her family following her initial statement, which claimed she was kidnapped and confirmed that authorities are looking into possible criminal charges related to the case “if and when they are filed.”

ICYMI, news of Russell’s disappearance spread around her community in Hoover, Alabama on July 13.

Russell called both her family and police on the evening of July 13 while driving on a highway after she said she saw a toddler walking alone along the road. After she reported the disturbing sighting, she claimed that she pulled over to help the child while remaining on the line with her family — and it was the last time her family heard from her for three days.

In the time that Russell was thought to be missing, her family’s pleas to find her went viral. Community searches were conducted, and images of her face were also circulated online as women across the globe expressed their terror and heartbreak over her disappearance.

The search for Russell led to conversations online about how women’s compassion is so often used against them — notorious serial killer Ted Bundy would wear a sling or fake cast to gain access to women, who he would ask to help him unload things from his car. It was then that he would attack them.

One mum pointed out online that now, on top of all the other things she must teach her daughter to keep safe, she now must also tell that if she sees a lost child while driving on a freeway, to keep on driving. It’s fkn sad.

In what felt like a miraculous turn of events, Carlee Russell turned up on Saturday night.

While some reports claimed that Russell was dropped home by an unnamed person, other reports said she returned home on foot.

The consensus, however, seems to be that she walked up to the front door and banged on it. She was rushed to hospital for an assessment and was released shortly after, according to USA Today.

Thomar Latrell Simmons, Russell’s boyfriend, claimed in a statement on social media that she was kidnapped and escaped.

Carlee Russell's boyfriend's statement on her alleged kidnap.
Thomar Simmon’s statement on Carlee Russell’s disappearance.

“She was literally fighting for her life for 48 hours, so until she’s physically and mentally stable again, she is not able to give any updates or whereabouts on her kidnapper at this very moment,” he wrote in an Instagram post.

Simmons thanked the wider public for sharing Russell’s picture and aiding the search to find her.

Her family said in a separate statement that they would share more information with media in due time, but didn’t mention any kidnapping.

“Our baby is safe!!!!!!!!!!” Carlee Russell’s mum wrote on Facebook.

“We do want to ask for privacy at this time to allow us to just love on our daughter and each other with our close family and friends. Also, please consider the fact we have not slept for three nights and we are mentally and physically exhausted.

“To our media friends, I promise we will speak with you and give a general statement in the near future as this is an ongoing investigation.”

Russell gave an initial statement to the police which was shared at a previous press conference.

“She told detectives that while traveling down the interstate, she saw a baby walking down the side of the road and called 911,” Derzis explained.

“She said when she got out of the vehicle to check on the child, a man came out of the trees and mumbled that he was checking on the baby. She claimed that the man then picked her up and she screamed. She stated he then made her go over a fence. She claimed he then forced her into a car, and the next thing she remembers is being in the trailer of an 18-wheeler.”

She claimed to have escaped “through lots of woods until she came out near her residence.”

Police are investigating the situation to determine whether they will lay charges against Russell for her misleading claims.