As rumors and speculation persist online, Hoover PD has issued a statement related to their investigation into what happened to Carlee Russell. Here’s what we know right now:
Recent details disclosed reveal that authorities in Alabama haven’t uncovered any proof substantiating the reports of a toddler wandering along I-459 on the evening 25-year-old Carlethia “Carlee” Nichole Russell disappeared under strange circumstances after making a 911 call.
A press release on Tuesday night stated: “Hoover Police Department has discovered no evidence indicating the presence of a toddler on the interstate. Furthermore, no additional reports about such a scenario were received, despite heavy vehicular movement in the area as evident from traffic camera footage.”
Russell, a nursing student, had left her workplace, Woodhouse Spa located in The Summit shopping center in Birmingham, Ala., around 8:20 p.m. Post work, she ordered and picked up food from a nearby eatery, subsequently driving to a Target store.
After exiting Target, she dialed 911 at 9:34 p.m. to report spotting a toddler on the interstate, later reinforcing this account to her sister-in-law. Authorities confirmed Russell disappeared while on her second call, which was placed around 9:36 p.m.
Arriving on the scene five minutes post-dispatch, officers discovered Russell’s wig, cellphone, and handbag, which contained an Apple Watch, strewn along the road. Russell had bought snacks at a Target on the nearby Highway 280. However, these items weren’t found either in her vehicle or near the other belongings found at the disappearance scene.
Upon Russell’s return home on Saturday night, police obtained surveillance footage from the neighborhood allegedly capturing her strolling alone on the sidewalk.
Authorities released details contradicting an initial call from Russell’s residence after her return. The call had reported her as unconscious, but she was found conscious and responsive when emergency services arrived.
At 10:44 p.m. Saturday, emergency dispatch received a call from Russell’s residence reporting an “unresponsive but breathing” individual. However, first responders discovered Russell conscious and speaking when they reached her home. She was then taken to UAB hospital for evaluation.
Police are continuing their investigation, examining many items that may reveal what happened during Russell’s disappearance.
The police statement emphasized, “Several pieces of potential evidence are still under evaluation. These items are critical in piecing together not only what occurred during the nearly 49 hours that Carlee was missing but also events preceding her disappearance.” The snacks Russell bought at a Target on Highway 280 were missing from her car and weren’t found near the site of her disappearance.
On Tuesday, July 18, the 25-year-old’s parents spoke out on the TODAY Show.
Carlee’s mother, Talitha Robinson-Russell, expressed concern about the baseless speculations being made about her daughter. “Carlee is grappling with the distress of unfounded accusations against her,” she said. While Robinson-Russell was not forthcoming about all the specifics Carlee relayed about her ordeal, she did hint at the presence of an abductor and mentioned that Carlee had to fiercely defend herself both mentally and physically. She conveyed Carlee’s message, saying, “Carlee has provided a statement to the detectives, enabling them to track down her kidnapper.” On her daughter’s homecoming, Robinson-Russell felt overwhelming happiness, noting, “We tried embracing her as gently as possible, but I had to restrain myself given her fragile condition.”
Carlee’s father, Carlos Russell, mentioned the aftermath of the ordeal on his daughter, noting her recurrent nightmares and instances that make her recoil in fear. “Certain things just trigger a fearful response in her,” he said.
Hoover PD will hold a press conference Wednsday at 3:30 PM EDT and will provide more information at that time.
Watch Carlos and Talitha Rusell’s interview on TODAY below.