Woodhouse Spa owner Stuart Rome told the New York Post that Russell, 25, had been let go from her job on Friday, July 21.
Russell went missing on Thursday, July 13, after she called 911 to report seeing a toddler walking on the side of I-459 South near mile marker 11. She later returned home by herself on Saturday, July 15.
Rome added that Russell’s former coworkers are upset about suspicions surrounding the kidnapping, as officials have admitted their skepticism surrounding the case.
“It was really devastating for them thinking a coworker was abducted,” Rome said. “The following day, Saturday, it was the busiest day of the week, and they had to plug along and work and in the off times pass out flyers and other things.”
He continued, “As the information came out that there were some questionable things, we’ve been a little pissed off, mainly because so many people took so much time out to search.”
Rome added that the spa has been slammed on social media and has received one-star reviews due to its affiliation with Russell. “Basically, we’ve spent the last day battling to get things deleted,” he said. “Comments. I’ve had to shut down my comment section on Instagram and Facebook page which hurts us because we do a lot of marketing there. We’re just trying to keep the doors open.”
Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis expressed skepticism surrounding Russell’s disappearance during a press conference on Wednesday, July 19.
After explaining that Russell claimed she was kidnapped and held captive by a man and woman in an 18-wheeler, Derzis admitted that some of her claims weren’t adding up.
“We’ve asked to interview Carlee a second time but have not been granted that request,” he said at the news conference. “There are many questions left to be answered, but only Carlee can provide those answers.”
The chief added that authorities have been “unable to verify most of Carlee’s initial statement made to investigators.” However, he noted that they “have no reason to believe that there is a threat to public safety related to this case.”
Additionally, Derzis said that Russell made “very strange” online searches before her disappearance, including information about Amber Alerts, the kidnapping thriller Taken and how to steal money from a cash register.
While Russell has not publicly spoken out about the kidnapping, her parents, Talitha Robinson-Russell and Carlos Russell, discussed the situation while appearing on The Today Show on Tuesday, July 18.
The parents couldn’t discuss what happened to their daughter during the time she was missing, though they assured viewers that she “fought for her life.”
“There were moments where she physically had to fight for her life and there were moments where she had to mentally fight for her life,” Robinson-Russell said.
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