Carlethia “Carlee” Nichole Russell, a 25-year-old Alabama nursing student who told police she was abducted, admitted Monday through a statement from her lawyer that she was not kidnapped.
A massive search for Russell began on July 13 after she called 911 and reported seeing a toddler on the side of the highway. Sheon July 15 and in a brief statement told Hoover police officers she’d been abducted.
In the days since, police said they wereabout being captured. Officers thought they were finally going to meet with her again Monday, but Russell’s attorney emailed a statement instead, Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis said.
Derzis read out the statement at a press conference.
“We ask for your prayers for Carlee as she addresses her issues and attempts to move forward,” Derzis read on behalf of Russell’s lawyer. “Understanding that she made a mistake in this matter, Carlee again asks for your forgiveness and prayers.”
Police still do not know where Russell was during the approximately 49 hours after her disappearance, though they built aof the days before her disappearance. Some of the timeline focuses on “very strange” online searches, Derzis said.
On July 11, Russell searched: “Do you have to pay for an Amber alert,” according to police. On the day of her disappearance, Russell searched online for the Birmingham bus station and information on bus tickets. She searched for information on taking money from a register without being caught. Russell also did an online search for the movie “Taken,” which is about a woman who is abducted and the ensuing quest to rescue her.
Russell left work in Birmingham, about 10 miles from Hoover, on the day she disappeared, around 8:20 p.m. local time. Surveillance video shows her leaving her workplace with a bathrobe, a roll of toilet paper and other items, all of which police said she kept “concealed.”
The Alabama woman ordered food from a nearby business at The Colonnade shopping mall and picked it up before she headed to a Target on Highway 280. She bought some granola bars and Cheez-Its and stayed in the store parking lot until 9:21 p.m.
Russell called 911 at 9:34 p.m. to report a toddler on the highway, saying she’d stopped to check on the boy, police said. Investigators on Wednesday said they never found any evidence of a child on the road.
“My client did not see a baby on the side of the road,” Derzis read on behalf of Russell’s lawyer during Monday’s press conference.