HOVER, Alabama (FloridaToday.news) – When Alabama woman Carly Russell disappeared after reporting last week that she saw a child walking along a highway, donations began pouring in to help her secure recovery.
Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama have raised over $63,000 in rewards to help find Russell before the 25-year-old returns home shortly after she goes missing.
According to The Birmingham News, the organization initially said it would return $63,378 to donors.
Bob Copus, the organization’s chief executive, said some of the donations have already been returned. One was a $25,000 donation from the Birmingham Board of Realtors and a $20,000 donation from an anonymous donor.
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Hours later, the organization changed its statement, telling the news outlet that the remaining money would not be returned to donors.
“This investigation is still ongoing and, accordingly, there are no grounds for reimbursement of any contributions at the moment. In addition, the Hoover Police Department has not requested payment or reimbursement of any donor donations,” the statement said.
About 60 donors pledged to donate $13,378.58, according to AL.com, most of which came through PayPal created by Crime Stoppers.
“In terms of large donations, we have an agreement that says that you give us this money for a specific case if law enforcement officials believe that they are going to use this money for a payout,” Copus explained. “If it is not used or the case is never solved, you can get your money back.”
The organization said it is reaching out to donors to let them know they can get refunds if they want.
“We would never use crime to raise funds,” Copus added. “This is done solely to ensure that law enforcement agencies receive the best information as quickly as possible. Also, it allows the public to participate because they want to participate.”
Russell, a nursing student, disappeared after leaving work on July 13 after claiming she saw a child walking down I-459 near Hoover, Alabama.
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When the police arrived where Russell was last seen, she was nowhere to be found, prompting the police to declare her missing. Shortly thereafter, extensive searches were made to find her.
About 48 hours after Russell’s disappearance, she reappeared on July 15. Her family members told the police that she was walking home. When she was taken to the hospital for treatment, she told the authorities that she had been kidnapped.
Throughout the Hoover Police Department’s investigation, officials said they were unable to find any of the children Russell reported seeing. Authorities also found inconsistencies between what Russell said happened and what emerged from their investigation.