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Was Carlee Russell Abducted? Everything to Know About Her Mysterious Disappearance and Return

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Source: hoover police department

Jul. 20 2023, Published 3:17 p.m. ET

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Carlee Russell, 25, disappeared on Thursday, July 13, shortly after calling 911 to report that she had witnessed a young child in a diaper walking alone in the side of the 1-459 Highway in Hoover, Ala.

Footage captured by traffic cameras confirmed that Russell did pull over and exit her vehicle, but she was nowhere to be seen by the time authorities arrived at that location. There was also no video evidence of a missing child.

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carleerussel hooverpd
Source: hoover police department

According to Hoover PD Lt. Daniel Lowe, just after calling for emergency services, Russell then made another call to a family member who said that they "lost contact" with Russell during their conversation, but that the "line remained open," prompting concern that something had happened to her.

The 25-year-old seemingly disappeared without a trace, leading to a state-wide search for the young woman. Russell was yet again nowhere to be found and many feared the worst had happened. However, on Saturday night, July 15, she returned home alone, on foot and mostly unharmed. Upon being examined she had only a minor injury to her lip and a small rip in her clothing.

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carleerussel hooverpd
Source: hoover police department
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When questioned, Russell alleged that she was confronted by a man who she claimed told her he was there to check on the missing child, before ordering her to climb and fence and into the trailer of an orange truck.

She also said that a man and a woman were also there with her in the vehicle, and noted that while they drove, she could hear a baby crying.

Once they arrived at their destination, Russell insisted that her kidnapper forced her to take off her clothes before taking pictures of her.

She allegedly escaped from the building where she was being kept and ran through the forest until she eventually arrived back to her home.

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carlee russell hooverpd
Source: hoover police department
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Despite giving the detailed report, local law enforcement has not made much progress in the strange case.

"What I can say is we’ve been unable to verify most of Carlee’s initial statement made to investigators," Hoover PD Chief Nick Derzis said earlier this week. "And we have no reason to believe there is a threat to public safety related to this case."

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Although there is speculation that Russell could have fabricated the story, the young woman's family is firmly on her side.

"She was literally fighting for her life for 48 hours, so until she’s physically & mentally stable again she is not able to give any updates or whereabouts on her kidnapper at this very moment," her boyfriend Thomar Lattrel Simmons explained in a since-deleted social media post.

Meanwhile, her mother told the Today show that she "absolutely" believed that her daughter's kidnapper was still out there.

People reported Chief Derzis' statement.

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