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Carlee Russell

Source: Hoover Police Department / Hoover PD

Questions still remain after the disappearance and return of Carlee Russell, prompting a look at the timeline of the situation from last week. After Wednesday’s (July 19) press conference, although plenty of questions were answered, more have sprouted that question the veracity of Russell’s claims.

The disappearance of the nursing student from Hoover, Alabama captured the attention of the country. The circumstances of the incident as well as her return still have people buzzing and expressing skepticism.

The Disappearance

Russell was driving along Interstate 459 when she made a call to 911 at 9:30 p.m. last Wednesday (July 12), reporting that she saw a male toddler at the side of the road by mile marker 11. She called a family member after the 911 call, saying she was going to check on the child. At that point, the family member lost contact with Russell and said they heard her scream but the phone line remained open, according to the Hoover Police Department.

Authorities arrived on the scene, finding Russell’s cell phone, purse and wig by her car but no sign of her or the toddler. Further investigation by police noted that she had stopped off at a Target at 8:20 p.m. to get snacks after leaving her job in Birmingham, 10 miles north before setting out for her home in Hoover. The purchased food was not present in the car.

Carlee’s Return

The 25-year-old arrived at the front door of her family’s home on Saturday night (July 15), barefoot. According to local police, they obtained video surveillance footage showing Russell walking down the street alone in her neighborhood. Medics were called to the residence to treat an “unresponsive but breathing” person. Russell was then taken to UAB Hospital, where she was treated and detectives took an initial statement from her.

Speculation and Skepticism

Many social media users have begun to cast doubt on Russell’s story, noting that authorities shared that there were no other 911 calls about the toddler. The frenzy caused Talitha Russell, Carlee’s mother, to issue a stern and lengthy statement on Tuesday (July 18) of any wrongdoing saying “no matter how many demands or false narratives that are produced we will not be bullied into doing anything that will compromise our daughter’s mental well-being or the investigation.”

However, Hoover Police Chief Nicholas C. Derzis said this at the press conference on Wednesday:

“What we can say is we’ve been unable to verify most of Carlee’s initial statements made to investigators. And we have no reason to believe that there is a threat to the public safety related to this particular case.” One key element has been the discovery of Russell’s internet history, which included references to the movie Taken and searches about Amber Alerts. Derzis said, “Right now, our focus is to determine those 49 hours, so the investigation continues.”