Authorities have released scant new details on the investigation into Carlethia “Carlee” Nichole Russell, a 25-year-old nursing student who vanished after she told police she saw a baby boy “on the side of I-459” in Hoover, Alabama, at around 9:35 p.m. Thursday.
She reappeared at her home just over 48 hours later around 10:45 p.m. Saturday and her family called 911 to say “she had returned home on foot.”
Previous reports indicated Russell was dropped off at the home and “appeared to be in shock.”
Hoover police and fire department officers rushed to the home and transported Russell to a local hospital before she was treated and released.
Investigators also took a statement from Russell, and said the statement is “part of the ongoing investigation which is expected to continue over the next few days.”
Police said they have not been able to locate anyone with her from the time she left the restaurant until she made the 911 call.
Police have not since released any new information, including about a suspect, Russell’s injuries or how she made her way back home.
But Russell’s family and her boyfriend have been vocal about the conditions of her disappearance and her time away from home.
“She was literally fighting for her life for 48 hours, so until she’s physically & mentally stable again she is not able to give any updates or whereabouts on her kidnapper at this very moment,” Thomas Latrell Simmons, who identified as Russell’s boyfriend, posted on Facebook Sunday.
Simmons also thanked those who helped search for Russell and called out people who accused him of being involved.
Russell’s mother, Talitha Robinson-Russell, told WVTM-TV she believed the young boy whom Russell said she saw on the side of the road was used as “bait” to lure an unsuspecting passerby, such as Russell, from their vehicle.
The Hoover 911 center received a call Thursday night from a woman, later determined to be Russell, who said she was near mile marker 11 and “saw a toddler walking on the side of the interstate.”
The boy was wearing a diaper, and Russell had estimated him to be around 3 to 4 years old, police said.
Russell said she had just gotten food after leaving her job at the time.
Russell then hung up with police and called her brother’s girlfriend as she pulled over to check on the child, police said. But things then went awry.
Police who arrived saw no sign of Russell or the young boy, but found her car door open and her belongings still inside the vehicle.
“The engine was running, and they found her phone on the ground, along with her wig and her hat,’’ Robinson-Russell told the site. “Her purse was still in the car. Her Apple Watch was in her purse and her AirPods as well.”
A witness reported seeing a gray vehicle near the scene, and a “light-complexioned male” standing around Russell’s car, Hoover police Lt. Daniel Lowe told reporters.
Police also said no one other than Russell reported a young child walking along the interstate.
Investigators are still analyzing traffic camera footage and the 911 call from the time of her disappearance.
Carlee Russell’s family speaks out: ‘She was not in a good state’
What is known about Russell’s missing?
A recap of the timeline of events from Thursday night was also laid out again by police:
- Russell left work from a business at The Summit in Birmingham at approximately 8:20 PM. She ordered food from a nearby business at The Colonnade and traveled there. It appears she was alone during this time and investigators have no evidence that she was being followed.
- Russell communicated on her cell phone with individuals known to her while on her path of travel up to the point of calling 911 at 9:34 PM. The conversation with the 911 operator ended and Carlee called a relative.
- She went missing during that conversation sometime after 9:36 PM after telling both the 911 operator and the relative she had seen a male toddler in a diaper on the side of I-459 and was stopping to check on him.
- Traffic camera footage was obtained which depicted this portion of the incident, and that footage is still being analyzed as part of the investigation in conjunction with the 911 call to accurately determine the timeframe.
- Russell’s 911 call remains the only timely report of a child on the interstate and no one has called to report that a child is missing.
- Hoover Police officers arrived on scene within five minutes of being dispatched, and several other officers arrived shortly behind.
- They located Carlee’s wig, cell phone and purse on the roadway near her vehicle, and Russell’s Apple Watch was in her purse. Hoover Police detectives, along with investigators from other local and federal agencies began pursuing possible leads and collecting evidence throughout the day Friday and Saturday.
The details of that statement are a part of the ongoing investigation which is expected to continue over the next several days. During the initial portion of the investigation, detectives were able to retrace nearly all of Carlee’s steps until the point she went missing and are confident that will continue to be the case,” stated Hoover police.
Trial attorney has doubts about missing Alabama woman’s story
Former FBI Special Agent explains inconsistencies
Former FBI Special Agent Stuart Kaplan says there are inconsistencies in her story: