A 25-year-old woman in Alabama who was reported missing Thursday night after telling a 911 dispatcher that she saw a young child walking on the side of an interstate and that she would stop to help was found Saturday night. night, according to police.
The woman, Carlee Russell, showed up at her family’s front door Saturday night, knocked on the door, and was greeted by stunned relatives, said Nicholas Derzis, police chief in Hoover, a Birmingham suburb.
He said he wasn’t sure how Mrs. Russell got there, but no one was with her when she got there. She was taken to a hospital for evaluation of her.
Hoover 911 received a call at 10:45 p.m. Saturday saying that Ms. Russell had returned home, police he said in a statement. “Additional information will be provided when available,” police said.
Her return capped an extensive statewide search that captured national attention and sparked widespread speculation about what might have happened before her disappearance.
The circumstances of his sudden disappearance remained unclear as of Sunday morning.
The case began Thursday night when Ms. Russell told the dispatcher about the child at around 9:35 p.m. the Hoover Police Department said.
The family member “lost contact” with Ms Russell, but the line remained open, police said.
When officers arrived at the site in Hoover, they found Ms. Russell’s vehicle and some of her belongings nearby, “but were unable to find her or a child in the area.” police said in a statement.
The Hoover Police Department said it had not received any calls from someone missing a child.
Talitha Russell, the mother of Carlee Russell, said in an interview Saturday night, hours before the young Russell was found, that her daughter, who is known as a “kind” soul and is always “the soul of the party”. She ”she was having a busy and meaningful summer, working part-time at the Woodhouse Spa in Birmingham and taking nursing classes at Jefferson State Community College.
Talitha Russell did not immediately respond to text messages and calls seeking a follow-up interview after her daughter was found.
On Saturday, she described being inundated with clues about her daughter’s possible whereabouts, which she shared with police. Each new buzz on her phone triggered a jolt of anxiety, Talitha Russell said.
“We want everyone to do what they can to be relentless in their pursuit, leave no stone unturned and just spread the word,” he said. “Not just in Alabama or Birmingham, but in every state.”
On Thursday night, Ms. Russell, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Auburn University in Montgomery, finished her shift at the spa around 8:20 p.m., headed to a Mediterranean restaurant to buy a chicken roll for his mother. and she was driving to her home in Hoover when she noticed what appeared to be a small child on the side of an interstate, Talitha Russell said.
Ms Russell first called the dispatcher who, according to Talitha Russell, told her to stay with the boy until the police arrived. Ms. Russell then called her brother’s girlfriend, whose name was not shared. The girlfriend remained on the phone and listened as Ms. Russell got out of the car and called out to the girl, Talitha Russell said.
There was no answer, but then the girlfriend heard a scream from the phone that seemed to come from Mrs. Russell.
It sounded like the phone had been dropped, and then all you could hear was the background noise of passing vehicles on the road, Talitha Russell said.
The girlfriend immediately told the family what had happened, prompting Talitha Russell and her husband to use a phone feature that showed them Mrs. Russell’s location.
They rushed to the location on the interstate and saw their daughter’s car, with the driver’s side door open and the engine still running. Her hat and wig were on the ground next to the car, and her phone was in a different location nearby, Talitha Russell said.
The policemen were already at the scene. They used drones to search for Ms. Russell in the surrounding area that night as her family drove through other suburbs looking for her daughter.
The mysterious disappearance has sparked widespread concern in the state in recent days, with police officers scrutinizing dozens of leads and possible leads.
Among the most perplexing details about the case is how no other driver on the busy interstate managed to see a child walking on the side of the road that night, an image that would surely have sparked more 911 calls than just Ms. Russell’s. .
“That’s a little unusual,” Chief Derzis said in an interview Saturday night, before Russell was found. He added: “What we do know is that her car was on the interstate, and she wasn’t there when we got there, and that’s what we’re trying to find out.”
There are some wooded areas near where Ms. Russell stopped her car, but sniffer dogs had combed those parts and found no consistent evidence, Chief Derzis said.
The Hoover Police Department obtained traffic footage that appeared to show the moment Ms. Russell turned on her emergency taillights on the interstate, called 911 to report the boy and stopped her red Mercedes-Benz, Chief Derzis said. , noting that the video was very grainy and investigators were working to clear it up.
“From the time it stopped to the time the first officer flashes his blue lights and arrives on scene, we don’t see another vehicle pull over or anything like that,” Chief Derzis said.
An initial tip about a gray vehicle with a man standing outside Ms Russell’s vehicle was ruled out after video review, the chief added.
He The Harpersville Police Department said Friday on Facebook that Mrs. Russell had been in town, about 30 miles east of Hoover, on Thursday “handling some business.” Talitha Russell said her daughter had been in Harpersville to speak with a judge about a minor traffic ticket that was ultimately dismissed.
The department said Ms Russell was an “intelligent, courteous and honorable young woman” who had impressed others that day with her “respect, poise, good attitude and her drive to become a nursing student and help others.”
Talitha Russell said she had spent the last few days praying that Mrs Russell would be found. She longed to see her daughter’s jubilant smile, her wide eyes and the Biblical scripture tattooed on her left shoulder.
“God is within her,” he says. “She will not fail.”