The family of an Alabama nursing student who went missing for two days after seeing a child alone on an interstate claims the child was used as ‘bait’ to lure her out.
Carlethea ‘Carly’ Nicole Russell, 25, was found alive after being mysteriously ‘abandoned’ at her home on Saturday night. An investigation is underway into the ordeal, which triggered a 48-hour multi-state search.
His parents, Talitha and Carolos Russell, said they believe the toddler may have been used as ‘bait’ to lure Russell from his car Thursday night, WVMT-TV reported.
They tearfully vowed to ‘sweep the world’ to find her when she was missing. He arrived on their doorstep and ‘appeared to be in shock’ late on Saturday night.
It comes as new footage shows the horrifying moment Russell slowly pulled over on the highway after a child was seen walking on their own two feet before he disappeared.
His parents Talitha and Carolos Russell (pictured) said they believed the toddler was used as ‘bait’ to lure Russell from his car on Thursday night. They tearfully vowed to ‘sweep the world’ to find her when she went missing.
Russell, 25, has been missing for two days – prompting a frantic search for her. He was found ‘skipped’ at his home on Saturday night
Carlethea ‘Carly’ Nicole Russell, 25, was seen driving into the shoulder lane in her red Mercedes with her flashers on. He was checking on a small child he saw wandering alone along an Alabama interstate highway
Moments later, the footage flashes blue – as police arrive at the scene where his empty car was found.
Russell, 25, was spotted Thursday in his red Mercedes with his flashers on the shoulder of Interstate 459 in Hoover, Alabama.
He was on the phone with his brother’s girlfriend the night he disappeared. The nursing student told him on the phone that she was getting out of her car to look for the baby.
The girlfriend suddenly lost contact with Russell after hearing a scream.
In the clip, his car is seen moving into the right lane. Moments later, the footage is illuminated by blue light as police arrive at the scene where his empty car was found.
When officers arrived at the location, they found Russell’s car, along with her cell phone, purse, wig and Apple Watch in a nearby area – but Russell and the child she claimed to have seen were nowhere to be seen.
Police are now using the footage to analyze what happened after the woman got out of her car on Thursday
Hoover Police Chief Nick Darzis said: ‘We have seen the video. It’s not the greatest. This proves that Carly’s car was there, and we know that when the officers responded to the 911 call that she was not.’
On Saturday night, officials in Hoover, Alabama received a phone call that Russell had returned to his home after knocking on the door.
Police Chief Nicholas Darzis told the New York Times that he wasn’t sure how he got there, but that no one was with Russell when he arrived.
After police and fire officials confirmed it was Russell and evaluated him at the scene, he was taken to a local hospital.
According to WBRC, a person familiar with the situation said no further information about her condition has been released other than she has been ‘removed’ from the home.
The Hoover Police Department said in a statement: ‘Missing person Carly Russell has been located.
‘At 10:45 p.m., the Hoover 911 center received a call that Carly had returned to her residence. Police responded to the scene to investigate this latest incident in the case.
‘Hoover fire medics responded to the scene to evaluate Carly and transported her to a local hospital for evaluation.
‘Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.’
Hoover police have not received any other missing child calls. A witness may have seen a gray vehicle and a man standing outside Carly’s vehicle, but police said they did not have additional information.
He has now been found after turning up on his doorstep on Saturday night
The 25-year-old girl was on the phone with her brother’s girlfriend when she went to check up on the baby before the family member heard a scream and lost contact.
When officers arrived at the location, they found Russell’s car, along with her cell phone, purse, wig and Apple Watch in the area nearby – but Russell and the child were nowhere to be seen.
His mother, Talitha Russell, said, ‘At some point during the process he got out of the car and my daughter-in-law heard him asking the baby if they were OK’. ‘The child didn’t respond, or at least he didn’t hear her respond, she responded.’
‘And then he heard our daughter Carly screaming, and from there we heard noises… background noise on her phone, which we later found out was noise from the interstate.’
Russell left work around 8:20 p.m. Thursday before stopping to pick up food for her and her mother.
She then drove to Hoover and called 911 at 9:30 p.m. to report the missing child wandering along Interstate 459.
After calling 911, Russell called his brother’s girlfriend to say he was going to check on the child. At 9:36 PM, the family member cut off contact with him but the line remained open.
Responding officers found Russell’s abandoned car and her cell phone, her purse, wig and Apple Watch in a nearby area, but no sign of her or the child.
Lt. Daniel Lowe said a witness may have seen a gray vehicle and a man standing outside Curley’s car, but they did not have additional information.
Russell was described as a 5-foot-4, 150 pound black female and was last seen wearing a black shirt, black pants and white Nike sneakers.
Russell is described as a 5-foot-4, 150 pound black female and was last seen wearing a black shirt, black pants and white Nike sneakers.
The Hoover Police Department said it is partnering with many local, state and federal partners in the investigation and is ‘grateful for the support of the local and law enforcement community.’
Talitha Russell said she last spoke to her daughter around 9:18 p.m. Thursday when she left Tajiki’s to pick up food and head home.
Lowe said police are investigating all possibilities in the disappearance.
‘We’re certainly not putting anything off the table,’ he said when asked if investigators believe he was abducted.
‘No information is too small in this investigation,’ Lowe said at a presser on Friday.
Family members also organized a search in the area.
“We’re just going to rock the world,” Russell’s father, Carlos Russell, told WVTM. ‘We have no inhibitions.’
An anonymous donor has offered a $20,000 reward for Russell’s safe return, and another $5,000 reward is available through Crime Stoppers.
The Hoover Police Department said it is partnering with many local, state and federal partners in the investigation and is ‘grateful for the support from the local and law enforcement community.’
Carly’s wig was left at the scene of her disappearance. Her mother posted a picture of what her daughter looks like without the wig in braids
Russell’s parents are appealing for information to come forward
Talitha Russell said the last time she spoke to her daughter was at 9:18 p.m. Thursday when she was leaving Tajiki to pick up food and heading home.
Talitha Russell told WSAZ, ‘We’re trusting God, we’re staying positive, we’re not letting any negative thoughts enter our minds, so all we’re doing is trusting God, trusting God that our daughter will be brought home safely.’
Talitha Russell said of her daughter, ‘She is known to be supportive and has a big heart.
‘And he knows not to stop for anyone… I think he let his guard down thinking they were too close. And when he got out of the car, he said to my daughter-in-law, ‘I can’t leave this little baby on the side of the road.’
According to Russell, she works part-time at The Woodhouse Day Spa and attends Jefferson State Community College, AL, where she is studying to become a registered nurse.
According to the outlet, she has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from AUM.