According to the police, a 25-year-old woman from Alabama who called 911 on Thursday night to report seeing a kid crossing an expressway and said she would stop to assist was located late on Saturday.
Carlee Russell arrived at her family’s front door, knocked, and was met by shocked family members, according to Nicholas Derzis, the police chief in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover.
Nobody was with Ms. Russell when she arrived, he said, adding that he was unsure of how she got there. She was sent to a hospital for assessment.
At 10:45 on Saturday night, Hoover 911 dispatchers got a call stating that Ms. Russell had come home, according to a statement from the police.
A protracted statewide hunt for her had garnered national attention and given rise to a lot of speculative thinking about what may have occurred before her abduction came to an end with her homecoming.
It was still unknown on Sunday because she suddenly vanished.
The incident started on Thursday night at about 9:35 p.m. when Ms. Russell reported the youngster to the dispatcher, contacted a relative to relay the same information, and then pulled over on I-459 South close to mile marker 11 to check on the toddler, according to the Hoover Police Department.
The connection remained open, according to the authorities, even after the family member “lost contact” with Ms. Russell.
When police arrived at the scene in Hoover, they discovered Ms. Russell’s car and some of her possessions close by, “but were unable to find her or a child in the area,” according to the police.
According to the Hoover Police Department, no reports about missing children had been made.
Carlee Russell’s mother, Talitha Russell, stated in an interview on Saturday night, hours before the discovery of the younger Ms. Russell, that her daughter, who is regarded as a “kindhearted” soul and is constantly “the life of the party,” was having a busy and fulfilling summer, working a part-time job at the Woodhouse Spa in Birmingham and enrolling in nursing classes at Jefferson State Community College.
After her daughter was discovered, Talitha Russell did not immediately react to calls for an interview.
She spoke on behalf of her family in a Facebook post on Sunday afternoon, stating that they want solitude “to allow us to just love on our daughter and each other with our close family and friends.”
The family was “mentally and physically exhausted,” according to the statement, and had not slept for three nights.
After finishing her shift at the spa on Thursday night at 8:20 p.m., Ms. Russell, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Auburn University at Montgomery, headed to a Mediterranean eatery to get a chicken roll-up for her mother.
She was then on her way home to Hoover when she spotted what appeared to be a young child on the side of an interstate, according to Talitha Russell.
Talitha Russell claims that Ms. Russell first phoned the dispatcher, who instructed her to keep the kid with her until the police showed up.
Then Ms. Russell phoned the unnamed girlfriend of her brother. According to Talitha Russell, the girlfriend stayed on the phone and listened as Ms. Russell stepped out of the vehicle and called to the youngster.
After a moment of silence, the girlfriend heard what she thought to be Ms. Russell’s scream coming from the phone.
Talitha Russell said that the background sounds of passing cars on the highway sounded as if the phone had been dropped.
As soon as the girlfriend informed the family of what had transpired, Talitha Russell and her husband used a phone function to find Ms. Russell.
They hurried to the highway location where they discovered their daughter’s vehicle with the driver-side door open and the engine still running. Talitha Russell said that the woman’s hat, wig, and phone were all found close to the vehicle.
There were already police present. That evening, when her family went through different areas in search of her, they employed drones to seek Ms. Russell.
How no other motorist on the regularly used highway managed to see a kid strolling by the side of the road that night, an image that would have undoubtedly inspired more 911 calls than just Ms. Russell’s, is one of the case’s most perplexing facts.
Before Ms. Russell was located, Chief Derzis said, “That is a little unusual.”
“The thing that we do know is that her car was on the interstate, and she was not when we got there, and that’s what we’re trying to figure out,” he said.
According to traffic footage obtained by the Hoover Police Department, Ms. Russell flashed her back emergency taillights on the interstate, called 911 to report the child, and pulled over in her red Mercedes-Benz at that precise moment. Chief Derzis noted that the video was extremely grainy and that detectives were working to make sense of it.
“We do not see another vehicle pull over or anything like that from the time that she stopped to the time that the first officer hits the blue lights and gets to the scene,” Chief Derzis said.
After seeing the video, the chief said that earlier information concerning a gray car with a guy standing outside Ms. Russell’s car had been disregarded.