Student who faked abduction given probation
Wisconsin woman ordered to reimburse police
(CNN) -- A college student who faked her abduction in March was sentenced Thursday to three years' probation after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor counts of obstructing police.
Audrey Seiler also was ordered to reimburse the Madison Police Department $250 per month for the length of the probation. That amount could increase to $400 a month if she graduates and gets a job.
In a statement read in Dane County Circuit Court, Seiler, a former University of Wisconsin-Madison student, blamed depression for causing her to act irrationally.
The criminal complaint against her laid out in detail the evidence surrounding the woman's disappearance, which sparked a massive search of the Madison area by hundreds of volunteers that spanned several days.
Seiler was reported missing March 27 and was found four days later in a marsh near her campus apartment.
She told police then, according to the complaint, that a "bad man" with a knife and a gun was in the vicinity and had threatened to kill her if she left. (Background)
Seiler said a man had abducted her from her apartment and taken her to the marsh, where he tied her, bound her and forced her to take cold tablets.
The woman's claim that an abductor was lurking nearby led police to initiate a search, which turned up no suspects. (Full story)
Police decided Seiler's claim was false after they reviewed videotape from a surveillance camera in an area store that showed the woman buying a knife, duct tape, rope and cold medication a day before she was reported missing.
In addition, police interviewed a man who said he had seen the woman in the marsh on days that she was being sought and that she appeared to be alone and unthreatened.
Interviewed by police during the search, Heather Thue, the student's roommate, said that Seiler "had been very depressed recently, coming out of her bedroom crying all the time."
Thue said that Seiler "had seemed kind of depressed lately and was 'confused' about her relationship" with her boyfriend, who did not pay as much attention to her as she wanted.
Seiler's attorney, Randy Hopper, described her as a "model student and a model citizen in her community" with no criminal history or history of emotional problems.