Derzis said that they’d been unable to verify Russell’s story—the bare bones of which had already sparked skepticism online. After police shared these details, armchair sleuths were only more convinced something wasn’t right, and genuinely concerned-sounding people lamented that the possibility of this being a hoax was a setback for victims of real crimes.
As the backlash mounted, Simmons pleaded for the online “bullying” to stop, telling the New York Post July 22, “I know what it seems like what she did. Just stop bullying on social media.”
Ultimately, Russell’s lawyer told reporters on July 24 that she had lied to police about being kidnapped.
“My client did not see a baby on the side of the road,” attorney Emory Anthony said in a prepared statement. “My client did not leave the Hoover area when she was identified as a missing person.”
Russell acted alone, he continued, and “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 to her friends and family.”