A woman in Alabama who went missing after she stopped to help a toddler she saw walking alone on the interstate has been found alive.
Carlethia “Carlee” Nichole Russell, 25, was reported to have returned to her home around 10:45 p.m. on Saturday, according to the Hoover Police Department.
Russell appeared at her family’s front door, according to Hoover Police Chief Nicholas Derzis. He was unsure of how she got there.
“She walked up, banged on the door, and that was her,” he said. She was brought to the hospital for additional testing.
According to a Facebook post from the Hoover Police Department, Russell called 911 around 9:34 p.m. local time on Thursday to report a toddler wandering along the side of I-459 South. However when police arrived, they found Russell’s car and some of her belongings, but no sign of her or the child.
After seeing the kid, she dialed 911, checked on the toddler, then called a relative who had lost touch with her, but the line remained open.
Officers were already on the way from the initial 911 call when they arrived at the area and discovered Russell’s car and several of her stuff, including her phone, but neither she nor the child were anywhere to be seen. There have been no calls or reports of missing children to the police.
Police announced at a press conference on Friday that the case was still open and ongoing and that a reward of up to $25,000 has been offered.
Talitha and Carlos Russell, Russell’s parents, told Nexstar’s WIAT that they thought Russell was deliberately lured out of her car and kidnapped after seeing a toddler walking by the edge of the freeway.
“The phone call that she last had with one of our relatives, they heard her scream,” Talitha Russell told WIAT.
During the 48 hours Russell was missing, dozens of volunteers, local and federal law enforcement, and others searched for her.
“There were times that were 50 to 60 plus Hoover police officers working. There are times you get overwhelmed. The story kept getting bigger and bigger,” Derzis said. “We were out until almost 8 or 9 o’clock tonight following leads and a lot of work, from not only our folks, from other agencies.”
“Just know that the police department is very happy,” he said. “We wanted her to come home safe and sound, and we’ll hope that’s what happened here. The investigation portion… we’ll get to, but to me, the main deal is making sure that she got home safe with her family. And I couldn’t be more excited, and I hope the community feels the same way.”
‘Joy to be around’: Family of missing Alabama woman