An Alabama woman who had been missing for two days returned home safely on Saturday.
Carlethia “Carlee” Russell’s family told 911 dispatchers that she arrived alone at their Hoover, Alabama, residence, and paramedics were called to transport her to a local hospital for evaluation.
“Additional information will be provided when it becomes available,” a police statement read.
As of Sunday morning, it is still unclear where Russell had been after she made a 911 call to report a toddler walking alone on the side of Interstate 459. Russell’s brother’s girlfriend was on the phone with her after the call and said she heard screaming and shuffling before the line went silent. Russell was unresponsive while her family called her name endlessly on the other end of the phone, according to her mother. They then alerted police.
WBRC reports that Russell was dropped off at her family’s Saturday around 10:45 p.m. and appeared to be in shock.
Concerned friends and family members gathered outside the UAB emergency room until early Sunday morning, according to AL.com.
Before she returned home, she was last seen around 9:30 p.m. on July 13. According to her family, Russell was heading home from work on Thursday night and had stopped at a restaurant to pick up dinner.
While driving on Interstate 459, she noticed a young child walking alone and decided to pull over to assist, her family members reported she told them.
“She was talking to our son’s girlfriend on the phone. She told her that it looks like there’s a little child on the side of the road that looks like a small, small toddler,” the woman’s mother Talitha Russell told News Nation.
“She told her, ‘Don’t get out the car.’ She said, ‘I’m not. I’m going to pull over and call 911.’”
Talitha said Russell put her brother’s girlfriend on hold and called 911, and came back on the line and said “Police were on their way.”
Talitha believes Russell then got out of the car to check on the child.
“She probably let her guard down thinking 911 would be there in a second,” Talitha told AL.com.
The brother’s girlfriend said she heard Russell ask the child if she was “OK” at least three times, but she never heard the child respond. Instead, she heard screaming followed by just the sound of traffic in the background. The line was abruptly disconnected after a while.
Police discovered Russell’s Mercedes parked with the engine still running, but she was nowhere to be found. Some of her belongings were found nearby. Despite searching the area, the police could not locate Russell or the child she had reported. No other reports of a missing child were received by the Hoover police, according to AL.com.
Russell’s family says her car door was left open, and her phone, wig, and hat were found on the ground nearby. Her purse remained in the car, with her Apple Watch and AirPods still inside.
A trucker claimed to have seen a gray car with a tall, brown-skinned man wearing khaki shorts leaning over inside. Although the police found tire tracks in the grass, the lack of muddy terrain made it difficult to determine the type of vehicle involved, according to reports.
Police are still reviewing footage from the highway.
Earlier on Saturday evening, police were dispatched to a Red Roof Inn where family members claimed to have received a call from Russell stating that she was there. However, it was not immediately evident that she had been found during that time.
Talitha said her daughter, a nursing student, always “tries to help people wherever she can.”
“She’s just a joy to be around, a genuine person, a loving person,” the mother said.