A woman has admitted that she lied about being kidnapped in Alabama.
Carlee Russell had claimed she was abducted after stopping to check on a toddler who was walking on the side of a busy highway.
The 25-year-old had called 911 shortly before disappearing on 13 July – sparking a nationwide search – but she returned home 49 hours later.
Last week, detectives uncovered evidence that cast doubt on her story, including Google searches about a film where a woman is abducted – and how to steal money from a cash register without getting caught.
In a statement, Russell’s lawyer confirmed there was no kidnapping – and apologized to her friends, family, and volunteers who had scoured the area looking for her.
“We ask for your prayers for Carlee as she addresses her issues and attempts to move forward, understanding she made a mistake in this matter. Carlee again asks for your forgiveness and prayers,” her lawyer Emory Anthony said.
Police in the city of Hoover are now considering whether to press criminal charges, and she is set to be interviewed in the coming days.
Russell had initially claimed that she was forced into an 18-wheeler truck and taken to a home where she was blindfolded and fed cheese crackers.
Before doubts over her story emerged, her mother Talitha had told NBC News: “There were moments when she physically had to fight for her life, and there were moments when she had to mentally fight for her life. She made it back.”
While Russell’s story was a hoax, campaigners say this shouldn’t diminish the fact that more than 30,000 black people were missing in the US at the end of 2022.