Missing Alabama woman Carlethia “Carlee” Nichole Russell’s family has spoken out after she was found.
“We tried to hug her as best we could, but I had to stand back because she was not in a good state,” Carlee’s mother, Talitha Robinson-Russell, recalled while appearing on The Today Show on Tuesday, July 18. “So, we had to stand back and have medical professionals work with her.”
Carlee, 25, 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, according to the Hoover Police Department.
After she had been missing for 48 hours, she returned to her home alone around 10:45 p.m. on Saturday, July 15. Carlee was evaluated at a hospital and returned home on the afternoon of Sunday, July 16.
During the interview, Talitha and Carlee’s father, Carlos Russell, said they couldn’t share what happened to Carlee during her disappearance due to an ongoing investigation. However, they did note that the speculation regarding the situation has been tough on their daughter.
“She’s having to deal with the trauma of people just making completely false allegations about her,” Talitha said.
Talitha then explained that Carlee has given a statement to detectives to help them look into who abducted her, while the parents admitted they “absolutely” believe their daughter’s abductor is still out there.
Before Carlee returned home, Talitha said that she would find her way back because she’s a “fighter.” Now that Carlee has returned, Talitha said she also felt it in her “heart” that she would make it back safe.
“She found her way back to us. However, we can’t discuss the details of that,” she said. “She definitely 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.”
On the night of her disappearance, Carlee called a relative to tell them she saw a child walking alone on the side of the road. The relative, who was said to be her brother’s girlfriend, lost contact with her and the phone line remained open, while the relative told authorities that she heard screaming on the other line.
“I don’t even know how to start off this post but to only say thank you to my lord & savior Jesus Christ for saving my girlfriend’s life!” Thomar wrote via Instagram on July 16 alongside several photos of him and Carlee. “Also, thank you to everyone who shared a picture, came out to the Hoover Met to help us with the search parties & who went & proceeded to tell other people about Carlee to bring more awareness to her story.”
After noting he saw “false allegations & assumptions” that he had “something to do with her abduction,” Thomar admitted the speculation “would have [him] discouraged at times.”
“I didn’t give up & kept my faith! I just want to thank all of my family, friends, former teammates & church members who called or texted me just to let me know that they’re praying & here for me,” he continued. “You guys don’t know how much that meant to me!”
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Thomar concluded the caption by asking for people to be “respectful of Carlee’s situation.”
“She was literally fighting for her life for 48 hours, so until she’s physically & mentally stable again she is not able to give any updates or whereabouts on her kidnapper at this very moment,” he wrote. “I also want to thank the people on social media who has been understanding & respectful about what she’s been through in these past few days.”
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