Alabama Woman Returns Home After Reporting Child on Highway

By: Dan Cooper

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Alabama Woman Returns Home After Reporting Child on Highway

An Alabama woman who went missing after calling 911 about a child she reported spotting on a highway has returned home after a two-day search.

On Thursday, the Hoover police department received a call at 9.34pm from 25-year-old Carlethia “Carlee” Nichole Russell on I-459 south near mile marker 11. According to the police, Russell reported that she saw a toddler walking on the side of the interstate.

After placing the call, Russell said she stopped to check on the child and also called a family member to report the situation. Speaking to AL.com, Russell’s mother said that Russell was speaking with her brother’s girlfriend.

“My son’s girlfriend heard her asking the child, ‘Are you OK?’ She never heard the child say anything but then she heard our daughter scream,” Russell’s mother told the outlet. “All you hear on her phone is background noise from the interstate,” she added.

The police confirmed the phone call, saying: “The family member lost contact with her, but the line remained open.”

Upon arriving at the scene, police found Russell’s vehicle and some of her belongings nearby. “Her car door was open,” Russell’s mother told AL.com. “They found her phone on the ground, along with her wig and her hat … Her purse was still in the car. Her Apple watch was in her purse and her AirPods as well,” she said.

However, Russell and the reported child were nowhere to be seen. Hoover police added that it has not received any other calls of someone missing a small child.

According to the police department, Russell had gotten off work at 8.20pm from a business at the Summit, a shopping complex, in Birmingham. “She … is believed to have stopped to pick up food from a business at the Colonnade before traveling toward Hoover on I-459 where she stopped near mile marker 11 between the Galleria flyover and exit 10 for Highway 150. A single witness reported possibly seeing a gray vehicle with a light-complected male standing outside of Carlee’s vehicle,” Hoover police said.

Moreover, in a statement on Facebook, police from Harpersville, a town 30 miles (50km) from Hoover, said that she was in their town “handling some business” but did not disclose any details. Harpersville police added that “Ms Russell was not at the Harpersville police department.”

Following her disappearance, dozens of volunteers, as well as local and federal law enforcement officials, searched for Russell, WBRC reports.

“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,” the Hoover police chief, Nick Derzis, told the outlet over the weekend. “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,” he added.

AL.com reports that as of Saturday, Russell’s reward fund had reached $58,260.95, according to Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama. In addition to Crime Stoppers offering up to $5,000, an anonymous donor offered $20,000 for her safe return.

The case took a turn on Saturday when Hoover police received a call at 10.45pm that Russell had returned home. Police and Hoover fire medics responded to the scene to assess Russell and transported her to a local hospital, police said.

“The first thing is to give Carlee and family a little time to get themselves back together,” Derzis told WBRC upon Russell’s return. “I know it’s been a tough experience for them. When we think it’s time to sit down and have a conversation with Carlee and try to get some facts, we’ll do that.”

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