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Carlee Russell, Alabama Woman Who Went Missing, Found Safe

After a widespread search for Carlethia “Carlee” Russell, she returned to her parents’ home on July 15, 2023. The 25 year-old Black woman went missing two days prior after stopping her car to check on a child walking along the Alabama interstate.

The nursing student made headlines for her assumed kidnapping, especially with the potential ruse of using a child as bait to an unsuspecting good samaritan. Soon after getting out of her car to see if the child was OK, a family member on the phone with Russell heard her scream, and a missing persons case was shortly opened.

A private donor offering $25,000 as a reward to bring Carlee home. As time continued on, the reward was increased to $55,000.

Russell’s car was still on the freeway after the incident, alongside her cell phone and other belongings. Video footage revealed Russell getting out her vehicle, but officials were unable to see if and when she was taken.

Hoover Police Chief Derzis told local news outlet WBRC of how Russell alerted her family members that she was back: “She walked up, banged on the door, and that was her.”

“We wanted her to come home safe and sound—and we’ll hope that’s what happened here,” Derzis added.
“The investigation portion…we’ll get to. But, to me, the main deal is making sure that she got home safe with her family. And I couldn’t be more excited, and I hope the community feels the same way.”

Upon her return, Russell was admitted into the University of Alabama Birmingham hospital for a medical evaluation. Her family and law enforcement’s main focus currently is ensuring the young woman’s well-being is intact. However, Derzis urged that hearing Russell’s account of what happened is still a priority once she recovers from the ordeal.

“I know it’s been a tough experience for them,” he said. “When we think it’s time to sit down and have a conversation with Carlee and try to get some facts, we’ll do that.”