Police 'unable to verify' statements from Alabama woman who returned home after claiming to have been abducted when she stopped to help roadside toddler

"We’ve been unable to verify most of Carlee’s initial statements made to investigators."


On Wednesday, Police in Hoover, Alabama, said they "pretty much know exactly what took place from the time [Carlee Russell] left work until the 911 call," but could not verify her claims of being abducted after stopping to help a toddler she saw walking on the interstate. 

Hoover Police Chief Nicholas C. Deriz said in a press conference, “What we can say is we’ve been unable to verify most of Carlee’s initial statements made to investigators. And we have no reason to believe that there is a threat to the public safety related to this particular case," according to AL.com

Russell was reported missing on July 13 when a family member was on the phone with her when her voice dropped off the call. This was just after she called 911 to report a toddler on the highway. Police said in a statement, they didn't find "any evidence of a toddler walking down the interstate" and that no other calls came in despite being on a busy highway. 

According to TMZ, Deriz said Carlee was captured on surveillance footage leaving her work on July 13. She reportedly took a robe and toilet paper with her from her workplace, then stopped to order food and went to Target to buy Cheez-Its and granola bars.

From this point, Carlee began driving and made the 911 call. Officers responded within five minutes to the scene, but did not find Carlee. Within her car they found her phone, wig, and the food she had ordered, but the Target items, toilet paper, and rober were gone.

According to Deriz, Russell claimed that a male with orange hair and a woman, who she never saw, forced her into a car. “She claimed he then forced her into a car and the next thing she remembers is being in the trailer of an 18-wheeler,” he said. 

Russell claimed that she was able to escape but was recaptured and taken to a house where the two made her undress and took pictures. “She does not remember them having any physical or sexual contact with her. She stated that the next day, she woke up and was fed cheese crackers by the female,” Derzis said. 

She was then placed back into another car which she escaped near her house. She told police that she ran through the woods until she was home. 

Police noted they found "very strange" internet searches on the woman's phone in the days leading up to the incident. She searched "Do you have to pay for an amber alert" on July 11. 

On the day of her disappearance, she searched "How to take money from a register without being caught Reddit." she looked into the "Birmingham bus station," and for a "One-way bus ticket from Birmingham to Nashville" with a departure date of July 13. 

Carlee also reportedly searched the term "Do you have to pay for an amber alert," and two searches related to Amber Alerts were found at the spa where Carlee works.

Lastly, she looked up "the movie Taken." Derzis noted “I do think it’s highly unusual the day that someone gets kidnapped that seven hours before that, they were searching the internet, Googling the movie Taken about an abduction. I find that very strange.”

Chief Derzis said they have asked to interview Carlee a second time, but she has been unwilling to do so at this time. 

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