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A press conference on Wednesday revealed new details in the sensational case of Carlee Russell, the 25-year-old nursing student from Alabama who went missing for 48 hours before returning home this weekend, claiming she had been abducted and held captive.
The Hoover Police Department revealed that Russell — who claims she was taken after checking on a toddler on the side of the road — conducted searches online about Amber alerts and the film “Taken,” which features an abduction, in the days and hours leading up to her disappearance on Thursday.
“You have to pay for an amber alert or search,” was one such search, according to authorities. Russell also searched, “how to take money from a register without being caught,” “Birmingham bus station,” “one way bus ticket from Birmingham to Nashville,” and “Taken.”
Authorities also revealed 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. The 25-year-old 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.”