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Alabama woman missing after helping child she saw walking on a highway

Detectives say the 25-year-old woman called 911 and stopped to check on the child but lost contact with a family member shortly after.
Alabama woman missing after helping child she saw walking on a highway
Posted at 9:42 PM, Jul 14, 2023

Alabama police say a woman is missing after she called 911 to report a child walking on the side of an interstate. 

Police say that after she called emergency services she stopped to try and help the child, and after calling a family member all contact was suddenly lost and she hasn't been seen since. 

The Hoover Police Department said neither 25-year-old Carlethia "Carlee" Nichole Russell nor the child she called 911 to report as being in danger were found at the scene when they arrived. 

Russell told a dispatcher she saw the child walking on the side of I-459 South. 

When she stopped to try and help she also called a family member who, police said, lost contact with Russell even though the phone line remained open. 

Police said officers were already en-route during that time and found Russell's vehicle at the scene, as well as some of her belongings. They were unable to find her or the child ,and said Hoover Police never received any other calls about a missing small child.  

Police say she was last seen wearing a black shirt, black pants and white Nike shoes. Her family said that a wig they believe she was wearing at the time was found at the scene, so she could now have her hair, which they say would be braided down to her scalp, visible. 

Her mother shared a photo on Facebook of how she believes Russell would look now. 

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Police said in Friday press conference that the case remains open and they are offering a reward of up to $25,000 for any information that helps locate Russell. 

Community members held a vigil on Friday, open to the public, to gather and support each other and raise awareness about the woman's disappearance. 

WBRC in Alabama reported that the community believes Russell could have possibly been abducted. 

Her mother Talitha Russell said the last time she spoke with her daughter Carlee was at about 9:18 p.m. on Thursday night. 

She said he was leaving a restaurant in Hoover, Alabama called Taziki’s after picking up a take away order, and was driving home. Police said they received a call from Russell at around 9:30 p.m. that night from a woman who said she was on I-459 South near mile marker 11 and reported that she had just seen a toddler walking on the side of the roadway. 

Talitha Russell told WBRC, "In the process at some point she got out of the car and my daughter-in-law could hear her asking the child if they were OK. The child did not respond, or at least she did not hear her respond, he or she respond."

Russell said, "And then she heard our daughter Carlee scream and from there on all we could hear was noise ... background noise in her phone which we later found out was noise from the interstate."

Police said they found personal items from Russell along with her cellphone close to her car when they arrived.

Carlee's mother said they did receive a tip that there may have been a gray vehicle involved when it was spotted by a truck driver passing in front of Carlee's car as they passed the vehicles on the interstate."

To share tips or read others on the search for Carlee Russell, there is a Facebook page dedicated to finding her.

Anyone with information about the case or who believes they may have seen Russell is asked to contact Detective Brad Fountain at 205-444-7562.

The Hoover Alabama Police Department Facebook page has updates on the search. 

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