The former boyfriend of an Alabama woman charged with a kidnapping hoax has spoken out about the moment he found out about her deceit.
Twenty-five-year-old Carlee Russell is facing two counts of false reporting in connection with her 13 July staged kidnapping. According to authorities in Hoover County, Ms Russell admitted to making a 911 call reporting false sightings of a toddler on the side of the highway before voluntarily abandoning her vehicle on that stretch.
She inexplicably reappeared at her parents’ home days later with a bizarre story about having been kidnapped by a man with orange hair. Investigators later learned that her internet history included searches for Amber Alerts and the movie Taken, and that evidence suggested Ms Russell plotted the abduction hoax.
Ms Russell’s ex-boyfriend Thomar Latrell Simmons has now revealed that he only found out about the ordeal through news video of a press conference held by the Hoover County Police Department that his family sent him.
“I was mad, I was sad. I was in all types of emotions .... That’s my girl so I stuck for it. But [it] wasn’t making sense,” Mr Simmons said on the 205 Boyz. “If you really wanted to tell me the truth, you could have told me. Before the police conference, you could have told me.”
Mr Simmons also talked about a small argument he had with Ms Russell when the two travelled to New York City just weeks before the kidnapping hoax unfolded.
“We were having fun, taking tours,” Mr Simmons said. “We had a little argument but nothing to kidnap yourself over. I am confused, like, ‘What happened? What made you do that?’”
Mr Simmons said he has had no contact with Ms Russell and hopes it remains that way. When authorities first raised questions about Ms Russell’s story, Mr Simmons defended her, writing in a social media post that her then-girlfriend had “literally fought for her life.”
The circumstances in which the alleged kidnapping occurred initially prompted speculation that a new ruse involving children was being used by kidnappers to lure in victims, despite law enforcement’s reiterated efforts to communicate that there was no evidence of such a threat
During an interview with police after she turned up at her parent’s home on 15 July, Ms Russell alleged that she got out of her vehicle when she saw a barefoot toddler walking in a field next to the highway. A man with orange hair and a bald spot then “came out of the trees” and abducted her, she claimed.
Ms Russell told police that she heard a woman and a baby inside the trailer of an 18-wheeler semi truck, before making a brief escape. She said she was then recaptured and taken to a house, where her alleged captors forced her to take pictures while naked.
She then claimed she escaped for a second time while being forced inside a car.
Then, the Hoover Police Department released a statement by Ms Russell’s attorney: “There was no kidnapping on Thursday, July 13. My client did not see a baby on the side of the road. 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, as to her friends and family.”
Ms Russell was arrested on 28 July on charges of false reporting to law enforcement and false reporting to law enforcement.
She was released on bond.