Hoover, Alabama – A compelling development emerged on Wednesday as Hoover’s police chief, Nicholas Derzis, revealed fresh insights into the baffling case of Carlethia “Carlee” Russell, a 25-year-old Black nursing student who recently vanished for a concerning 48 hours. Russell’s testimony to the investigators, recounted during an interview, offers a glimpse into the distressing events she experienced while missing.
The police chief disclosed that Russell reported having encountered a child wandering along the roadside, leading her to promptly alert 911 and approach the child. However, her altruistic act took a horrifying turn when a man allegedly coerced her into a vehicle, causing her to cry out for help.
The latest revelations come on the heels of NBC News’ coverage, wherein Russell’s parents released a written statement expressing their belief that their daughter had been taken on the night of her disappearance. They passionately urged the police to aggressively pursue her suspected abductor, ratcheting up the urgency surrounding the ongoing investigation.
Despite the parental concerns, Chief Derzis tempered apprehensions regarding a potential abduction, affirming that there appears to be no imminent danger to public safety linked to this particular case. Nevertheless, he underlined that the investigative efforts to unravel the circumstances of Russell’s disappearance persist unabated.
The sequence of events on July 13th unfolded dramatically with Russell’s 911 call reporting the presence of a child on I-495. Shortly thereafter, while conversing with her sister-in-law, Russell vanished mysteriously, setting off a frantic international search that captured global attention. Her boyfriend, Thomas Latrell Simmons, took to Facebook, revealing that Russell had been battling for her life against at least one presumed abductor.
Talitha Robinson, Russell’s mother, recounted a chilling detail that a relative overheard her daughter scream during their phone conversation, after which only background noises from the nearby interstate were discernible. Subsequently, the police discovered Russell’s phone discarded near her vehicle, while her purse containing an Apple Watch was found inside.
During Wednesday’s press conference, Chief Derzis highlighted that Russell’s 911 call remained the singular report of a child on the interstate, despite the area being traversed by numerous vehicles at the time. Additionally, investigators pieced together data from Russell’s cell phone, revealing a significant distance of 600 yards covered while she followed the child she had initially spotted.
Complicating the narrative, internet searches on Russell’s cellphone in the hours leading up to her disappearance raised intrigue. Queries concerning “how to pay for an Amber Alert,” “how to take money from a register without being caught,” and references to the movie “Taken,” which revolves around a CIA agent’s pursuit to rescue his abducted daughter, added to the enigmatic nature of the case.
The intrigue deepened when Russell eventually returned to her home on Sunday night, triggering an anonymous call to the police claiming she was “unresponsive but breathing.” Upon the arrival of emergency personnel, Russell was found conscious and capable of communication. Neighborhood surveillance footage captured her walking home, and Chief Derzis conveyed Russell’s account of escaping from her captors, navigating through the woods before reaching her residence.
During the police interview, Russell exhibited a minor injury to her lip and complained of a headache. However, she declined a second interview thus far, citing the trauma she endured, as conveyed by her parents during meetings with the police.
Chief Derzis addressed inquiries regarding Russell’s mental health history, indicating that there is no knowledge of any such condition. Despite the wealth of information gathered thus far, numerous unanswered questions linger, leaving Chief Derzis to assert that Carlee Russell herself holds the key to unlocking the truth behind this perplexing case.