MADISON, Wis. – A college student who staged her own disappearance last month will try to reach a plea agreement and avoid trial on charges she obstructed officers, her attorney said Thursday.
Audrey Seiler (search), 20, a University of Wisconsin-Madison (search) sophomore from Rockford, Minn., faces up to nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine for each of two misdemeanor charges. Her attorney, Randy Hopper, appeared on her behalf Thursday in Dane County Circuit Court.
Hopper said he will meet with District Attorney Brian Blanchard (search) but would not elaborate what kind of agreement he would like to reach for Seiler.
Seiler will remain free on a signature bond, Court Commissioner Todd Meurer said. Hopper said Seiler was home with her parents in Rockford, Minn.
"She obviously is dealing with a lot of trauma related to this, she's going through a very difficult time. She's having both some emotional and some physical problems to deal with as you might expect somebody who's gone through something like this," Hopper said after appearing in court.
Seiler disappeared from her off-campus apartment March 27 without her coat or purse. She was discovered curled in a fetal position in a marsh four days later, and told police that a man had abducted her at knifepoint.
But police concluded Seiler made up the story after obtaining a store videotape that showed her buying the knife, duct tape, rope and cold medicine she claimed her abductor used to restrain her. Seiler confessed after she was confronted with the tape, according to authorities.
"I set up everything. I'm just so messed up. I'm sorry," they quoted her as saying. But she later recanted the statement, insisting she had been abducted.
Asked about the possibility of a plea bargain, Blanchard said his office always tries to reach an agreement "if that can be done in the interest of justice and reaching a fair result. ... We'll see if that's possible with this case."
The criminal complaint depicts Seiler as a young woman upset by a fading relationship with her boyfriend, Ryan Fisher.
Friends said the two had been fighting, and Seiler's roommate, Heather Thue, told officers that Fisher did not pay as much attention to Seiler as she wanted. Seiler's mother told police her daughter had not been herself lately and was "extremely needy" of Fisher.
Three days before she disappeared, her laptop was used to log onto Fisher's e-mail account and read exchanges "with romantic overtones" between him and another woman, according to the complaint.
Hundreds of people from Madison and Seiler's hometown searched for her after she disappeared, and her claim about an armed man touched off a major manhunt that authorities said cost the police about $96,000.
A message left at Seiler's home in Rockford, Minn., was not immediately returned. There was no answer at the campus telephone number for Fisher.