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Carlee Russell, the 25-year-old nursing student who claims that she was kidnapped while checking on a toddler on the side of the road in Alabama, has reportedly been fired from her job.
The New York Post reported that Russell was “canned” from her job at the Woodhouse spa in Birmingham, according to spa owner Stuart Rome.
Russell told the publication that when everyone at the spa initially heard about the alleged kidnapping, they were “really devastat[ed]” and that they spent a lot of their own personal time trying to help locate her.
The Hoover Police Department revealed late this week that Russell conducted searches online about Amber alerts and the film “Taken,” which is about an abduction, in the hours leading up to her alleged kidnapping. She was missing for roughly 48 hours before she returned home.
“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 said.
The business has been flooded with negative reviews online and has lost business because they’ve had to shut down their social media channels.
Rome told the Post that if Russell’s story turns out to be false, it will really harm the next time there is a real victim in the area.
“I think it erodes faith for the next time, it erodes faith when people see somebody who’s been abducted and they’ve been put through this,” he said. “They’re just not going to respond like they did, which is the worst part.”
Authorities also revealed this week that Russell took a “dark bathrobe,” a roll of toilet paper, and other items from her place of work hours before she vanished. She also stopped at a Target store to purchase some granola bars and other snacks after picking up takeout food. Hoover PD revealed that when they arrived on scene following Russell’s 911 call, the items from work and Target were missing, though her takeout food was still in the vehicle.
The department also emphasized that Russell drove 600 yards on the interstate while allegedly following the toddler she spotted on the side of the road. The department has no evidence that there was a child, and expressed disbelief that a toddler could move so quickly on the side of the interstate without incident.
“To think that a toddler, barefoot, [who] can be 3 or 4 years old, is gonna travel six football fields is –without getting in the roadway, without crying – it’s just very hard for me to understand,” authorities said at the presser.
Russell has claimed she was taken by a man with orange hair and a bald spot after she left her vehicle to check on the toddler. She says she was then forced into a vehicle and eventually taken into a home with the man, along with a woman, whom Russell never got a look at. She then claims she was told to undress and believes the man and woman took photos of her.
Russell says she was eventually put inside another vehicle, and was somehow able to escape. She ran through “lots of woods” and made it to her parents’ home, where she resides, too.
Detectives say Russell had $107 cash in her right sock, a ripped shirt, and a cut lip when they arrived at her parents’ house.
“She’s having to deal with the trauma of people just making completely false allegations about her,” Russell’s parents told NBC on Tuesday. “She found her way back to us. However, we can’t discuss the details of that.”
Amanda Prestigiacomo contributed to this report.