By Ronny Reyes
The Alabama woman who went missing for 49 hours last week had searched for one-way bus tickets to Nashville, details about Amber alerts and the Liam Neeson film “Taken” on the day she vanished, police said.
Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis told reporters Wednesday officers still don’t know exactly what happened in the time Carlethia “Carlee” Nichole Russell vanished on July 13, and they are waiting to interview her again.
“That’s the $100 question, we don’t know what happened after she got out of her car,” Derzis said. “Everything else is unknown.”
Russell, 25, disappeared after she called 911 to report a toddler wandering the I-459 in Alabama at 9:34 p.m.
Derzis said on the day of the disappearance, Russell looked up the film “Taken”, a movie where Neeson plays a retired CIA agent hunting down his daughter’s abductors after they kidnap her in France.
She also looked up, “How to take money from a register without being caught,” as well as info for one-way bus tickets from Birmingham, Alabama, to Nashville.
Records also showed how in the days leading up to the incident, Russell had made several notable searches on her phone about Amber Alerts — the child abduction emergency notification system, including if she was too old to be the subject of one.
Derzis stressed that while Russell’s family has remained cooperative with police, they are still waiting for her to make a full recovery before talking with officials again.
“The focus was to get Carlee home, that’s all we wanted, her home safe and sound,” the chief said, noting that there is now pressure, given the national spotlight on the case, to uncover what happened.
“We want to know the truth,” he added.
Derzis said that during their first interview with Russell, she claimed she was kidnapped by a man who jumped out of the trees in the highway and forced her into his car.
Hoover Police said Tuesday night that they could not find any evidence to back up her claim of a toddler wandering on the highway that night, which was her reason for stopping.
The nursing student then turned up two days later, with video surveillance showing her walking down the sidewalk home, alone.
What to know about Carlee Russell’s disappearance
Carlethia “Carlee” Nichole Russell, 25, was reported missing on Thursday night after stopping to help a toddler she had spotted wandering along a busy highway.
The nursing student called 911 and was talking with a family member as she pulled off I-459 to check on the child when the line mysteriously went silent — but remained open, according to Hoover police.
When officers arrived just minutes later, they found Russell’s running car, cellphone and purse — but no sign of her or the child.
A witness told police they saw a gray vehicle parked near the scene and saw a “light-complexioned male” standing outside Russell’s car, according to Lowe.
Traffic camera footage from Interstate 459 at mile marker 11.7 is believed to show Russell’s car pulling over before she vanished.
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Approximately 48 hours later, Russell reappeared as mysteriously as she had vanished, returning to her home in Hoover, Ala., before 10:45 p.m., the Hoover Police Department confirmed to WBRC.
Russell was dropped off at the residence and “appeared to be in shock.” She was taken to a local hospital for evaluation.
Her parents believe the toddler whom Russell spotted on the side of the road, who was estimated to be 3 to 4 years old, may have been used as “bait” to lure her out of her car.
Russell’s boyfriend, Thomar Latrell Simmons, claims his girlfriend was kidnapped and is recovering from the traumatic experience.
Hoover police plan to respect Russell’s recovery time before interviewing her.
Emergency dispatch received a call from Russell’s residence of an “unresponsive but breathing” person, but upon arrival at the home, first responders found her conscious and speaking.
Police said they are still working to evaluate exactly what occurred in the 49 hours Russell was missing, as well as the events leading up to her sudden disappearance.
Members of Russell’s family have claimed the child, who was mentioned in the 911 call and in a follow up call to family, was used as “bait” by human traffickers to get her out of the vehicle and kidnap her.
Russell’s parents and boyfriend claim Russell “fought for her life” to escape from kidnappers, who they say are still on the loose.
However, on Wednesday police said they do not believe there is a threat to the public from kidnappers in the area.
This is a developing story, please check back for updates.