Carlee Russell, who had been missing since Thursday, has finally returned home safe. The Hoover 911 center received a call at 10:45 p.m. on Saturday, confirming that Carlee had returned home. She has been taken to the hospital.
The news release from the Hoover Police Department stated that Hoover Fire medics promptly responded to the scene upon Carlee’s return to assess her condition. Following the evaluation, she was taken to a local hospital for further examination.
Although Carlee Russell’s safe return is a cause for celebration, many questions still linger about her mysterious absence. As of now, there are no details provided about where she had been during the days she was missing. The police have assured the public that additional information will be shared as soon as it becomes available.
The disappearance of Carlee Russell touched the hearts of many, as demonstrated by the outpouring of support from the community during the search. A reward of $25,000 was offered to anyone who could provide information that would lead to her whereabouts.
Carlethia “Carlee” Nichole Russell, a 25-year-old nursing student has made headlines after calling into a Hoover, Alabama police station to report what she said was a toddler walking alone on an interstate at night—before disappearing while still on the phone with her sister-in-law.
Russell reportedly stopped her car to check on the toddler she said she spotted and her car was found still running, with her personal belongings, including a phone, purse with Apple Watch and Air Pods, and wig, in the car.
“My daughter-in-law could hear her ask if the child was OK, and the child didn’t respond – at least she didn’t hear her respond,” Russell’s mother, Talitha, told reporters. “Then she heard our daughter Carlee scream.”
Russell is currently a nursing student at Jefferson State Community College whom another police department called “smart” and “courteous” and the search is rigorously underway to find her.
Image: Carlee Russell
According to a Facebook post made by the police department, Russell called 911 around 9:34 PM on Thursday, July 13 and reported seeing a toddler walking along the side of 1-459 South near mile marker 11. Immediately after calling the police, the post says that Russell stopped her car to check on the child and called a family member while doing so, reporting the same situation she had relayed to the cops.
The family member stayed on the line with Russell but lost contact with her. Fox reports that Russell’s sister-in-law was on the phone with Russell and heard Russell approach the child and ask her if she was okay, then heard Russell scream before she stopped communicating.
When the police arrived at the scene, they found Russell’s vehicle and belongings, but no sign of her or a child. No other calls that night were received about a child being missing or someone seeing a child walking alone.
“We’re just gonna scour the earth,” said Carlos Russell, her father. “There’s no stopping us.”
Image: Carlee Russell
Image: Carlee Rusell
The Hoover Police Department gave a press conference that was posted on Facebook in which they provided additional details that Russell left work from her job at The Summit Day Spa in Woodhouse around 8:30 pm and is believed to have stopped for food at a nearby restaurant shortly before she called Hoover police. A video online purports to show Russell’s car pulling over and her walking over to the passenger side of the stopped car before disappearing out of sight.
According to another local news outlet, Russell was only 10 minutes from home when she called 911. Fox reported that Russell’s red Mercedes was still running on the side of the road with the car door open and that police found her wig, hat, cell phone, and a purse containing her Apple watch and Airpods still inside.
In the press conference that aired on Facebook, Hoover Police Lt. Daniel Low relayed that one witness reported seeing a man standing beside Russell’s vehicle just before officers arrived at the scene, but the claims have not been verified.
“A single witness has reported possibly seeing a gray vehicle with a light-complexioned male standing outside Carlee’s vehicle,” he said at a press conference.
Another nearby police department, Harpersville, also noted that they had encountered Russell earlier that day and were impressed by how “smart” and “courteous” the nursing student was.
“We were honored to spend time with this smart, courteous and honoring young woman yesterday,” the department wrote in a Facebook post. “She was handling some business in the Town of Harpersville yesterday and we were so impressed by her respect, poise, good attitude and her drive to become a nursing student and help others.”
“We were able to tell her how much we thought of her and that she would do well in life,” the post continued. “When this news broke, so did our hearts. This world needs many many more young women and young men like her.”
The Harpersville Police Department also further clarified in an additional post that Russell was never at their police department, but that they had had “the pleasure of interacting with the bright young woman,” which prompted them to share the story of encountering her.
“Our interests are only for the safe return of Ms. Russell to her family,” the department added. “The media is doing a fantastic job by keeping this situation regarding Ms. Russell’s disappearance up front, and the story is not her interaction with our agency or her visit to the Town of Harpersville. Let’s not allow individuals to shift the focus of the goal, change the narrative of the story or conversation; which is gaining positive and actionable information regarding the cause of locating Ms. Russell.”
Russell’s mother, Talitha Russell, spoke to CNN affiliate WBRC that the family is relying on their faith to see them through and hoping their daughter will be found safely.
“We are trusting God, we are staying positive, we are not allowing any negative thoughts to enter our minds,” she told WBRC. “So all that we are doing is trusting God, believe in God that our daughter will be brought home safely.”
Russell is described as a 25-year-old Black female who is 5’4” and around 150-160 lbs. She was last seen wearing a black shirt, black pants, and white Nike shoes.
Anyone who believes they may have seen Russell or may have any information about this case is asked to call Detective Brad Fountain at 205-444-7562.
Many on social media are sharing Russell’s story, hoping to aid in her return, and urging other young people to be aware of the potential dangers of wanting to help those who appear in need of roadside assistance.
Scammers have been reported claiming to need roadside assistance for things like money or robbing Good Samaritans who try to help. And while the Hoover police department did not confirm they believe that’s what happened in this case, they said they are exploring “all possibilities.”
State Police usually urge anyone who spots an emergency on the road or sees someone who looks like they need help on the road to call 911 but to avoid stopping to help themselves unless absolutely necessary. It’s usually best to allow trained professionals to help with emergencies and avoid getting injured or becoming endangered yourself.