Carlee Russell’s Parents Speak After Her Abduction Return, ‘She Definitely Fought for Her Life’

Carlee Russell’s Parents Speak After Her Abduction Return, ‘She Definitely Fought for Her Life’

The parents of the 25-year-old woman who went missing last week before returning 48 hours later are speaking on the “fight” their daughter put up for her life.

Talitha and Carlos Russell, the parents of Carlethia “Carlee” Russell, sat down with Today on July 18 to give their first statement since their daughter’s abduction by a suspect they believe is still at large. With the case under investigation, the Russells said they’re limited on what they can share.

“Anything leading to the case itself, we can’t discuss that,” Talitha said. “She found her way back to us, however we can’t discuss the details of that.”

According to Carlee’s parents, “there were definitely moments where she fought for her life.”

“There were moments she had to physically fight for her life and there were moments she had to mentally fight for her life.”

Carlee’s abduction made nationwide headlines, with many reposting surveillance footage that captured the moment her car stopped on the highway. The nursing student disappeared after calling 911 on the evening of July 13 to report a child walking on I-459 South.

She was on the phone with a family member when she stepped out of her car to check on the child, police said. The family member lost contact with Carlee, but claimed to have heard her scream before losing connection.

When officers arrived, they found Carlee’s car running, with many of her personal belongings inside. But officers did not find Russell or the child and no children were reported missing during that time period.

Carlee’s parents were tormented while waiting for an update from the police, with Talitha noting all of the phone calls they received from people claiming to have information about her whereabouts.

“There were actually just so many calls and texts from people who maliciously lied to us,” she said. “I just didn’t know people could be so evil.”

Now with Carlee returning home, the parents are overjoyed their daughter is alive and safe while recovering from the traumatic experience.

”To me, I mean, so much joy. We tried to hug her as best we could, but I had to stand back because she was not in a good state,’’ Talitha said.

“So, we had to stand back and let medical professionals work with her.”

Now the family is urging the public to stop making assumptions about the case and accusing Carlee of faking her abduction.

“She’s having to deal with the trauma of people just making completely false allegations about her,” Talitha said.