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FIRST ON FOX: Alabama AG vows to seek restitution from Carlee Russell if convicted in kidnapping hoax


Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall told Fox News Digital that the state will seek restitution in the Carlee Russell case if there’s a conviction and said that the hoax could have a “crying wolf” impact on the public.

24-year-old Russell was charged on Friday with misdemeanor false reporting of an incident and false reporting to law enforcement after she called 911 on July 13 at around 9:34 p.m. and said that there was a toddler on the side of the road in diapers, then went missing.

She returned home on July 15 at around 10:45 p.m. near where police say she was seen walking along the sidewalk beforehand.

Russell’s attorney, Emery Anthony, said in an emailed statement to the Hoover Police Department that his client admitted to never seeing a baby on Interstate 459 and was never a missing person.


Alabama Steve Marshall and Carlee Russell

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall told Fox News Digital that the state will seek restitution in the Carlee Russell case if there’s a conviction and said that the hoax might have a “crying wolf” impact on the public. (Hoover Police Department and Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“My client did not have any help in this incident. This was a single act done by herself,” the statement said. “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.”

Marshall made the comments during an exclusive interview with Fox News Digital on Friday after Russell was charged with two misdemeanors.

“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.”

Carlee Russell Googled the movie “Taken” before disappearing on July 13 along with a slew of other searches leading up to the moment where she told a 911 operator that she saw a toddler walking along a busy interstate. On Monday, police said she admitted the whole thing was a hoax. (Dana Mixer for Fox News Digital and Hoover Police Department)

He said that the Alabama Attorney General’s office will be reaching out to individual agencies involved in this investigation to ask if they are seeking a recovery of investigative costs.

Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis said on Friday that Marshall’s office has agreed to “adopt this case.”

The Alabama Attorney General also said there’s a concern Carlee Russell’s hoax may have a negative impact on future missing persons cases in regard to public attention.


Alabama woman Carlee Russell's car seen in traffic cam video

Hoover, Alabama police are reviewing traffic camera video from I-459 that shows Carlee Russell’s car, seen driving slowly in the emergency lane with warning lights, pull over before she went missing July 13.  (Courtesy: Hoover Police Department / TCA)

“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,” Marshall 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 said.

He said the case is a “reflection of the lengths law enforcement will go in investigating a case and their willingness to follow the facts.”


Carlee Russell Alabama

Carlee Russell is charged with two misdemeanors after faking her own kidnapping in Hoover, Alabama. (Hoover Police Department)

Her tale would go on to gain national attention, and many people locally spent hours looking for Russell in the Birmingham area.

Derzis said during a press conference on Friday that police are still unclear of what exactly Russell was doing during the 49 hours she was missing.

“We don’t have any idea where Carlee Russell was [during those] 49 hours,” Derzis said.

Derzis said that he “shares the same frustration” with members of the public who believe Russell is being given a slap on the wrist.



Carlee Russell’s residence that police say she returned to on July 15. (Dana Mixer for Fox News Digital)

“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 kidnaping or another violent crime.”


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