Found Alive AL - Carlethia “Carlee” Russell, 25, 911 call reported toddler walking on side of interstate, car found, she & toddler gone, Birmingham, 13 Jul ‘23

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This is one of those baffling cases that you turn over and over and no scenario seems to quite fit properly. I have watched that video so many times and I am not sure what to make of it. Sometimes I think I see someone else besides Carlee and other times I feel sure there is no one else. The details we have are strange and make no sense but at this point, until we get more information I am not ruling anything out.

If there was another car and man there then abduction seems likely but it's all so random with the toddler. If there was no other person perhaps she had taken drugs or had a drug interaction or some strange medical situation. Remember the Erin Valenati Case? Erin had no history of mental illness or drug use. Her husband was a psychologist. Erin had gone out to dinner after attending a tech conference during the day which I think she may have spoken at and then drove around lost for hours and was found dead in the backseat of her car. If I remember her COD was natural causes after an acute manic episode. I am not suggesting Carlees's case is like Erin's just that we have all seen so many strange cases where you just never know and this one fits that mold of anything could be possible.

Hopefully, more people traveling on the interstate during that time come forward with dashcam footage or eyewitness accounts. The good news is the media has picked up the story and it's the weekend so possibly more people will hear about her and LE will get more tips! Also, Aniah Blanchard's mother helping is great news! She was tenacious when Aniah was missing and just who this family needs to help them!
 
I live in Auburn Alabama, so this is somewhat local. My thoughts....her phone probably connected to her car so the apple watch and airpods weren't necessary when she was driving. Exactly what time is the interstate video start time? Exactly what time did she call 911? Exactly what time did she call her sister in law? I can't figure out how she saw something or someone from a long distance and had time to call etc. Would she have been getting off at that next exit? If so, then maybe she was already slowing down preparing to exit when she saw the toddler. I pray for her safety and that the other drivers saw something that can help. I would think it would take a moment to process seeing something and then call 911. But maybe Carlee was the type to act quickly on her instincts and didn't think twice about calling 911. Maybe it was a doll that looked like a toddler. I can't imagine anyone using a toddler to abduct someone unless they had one of those kid leash things. Just trying to piece it together and brainstorm. All of my posts are strictly my opinion
 
I can't make anything out of the ordinary with these bad eyes, but that was more traffic than I expected, hopefully folks are checking dash cams. It honestly feels like one of those cases where she will be found close by if indeed she is no longer with us.
 
When I was about 4 my aunt gave me a doll that was the same size as me. When she brought it over, I saw it in the other room and literally thought it was another child. I would think something like that would be more likely than an actual toddler being used for bait.
 
I live in Auburn Alabama, so this is somewhat local. My thoughts....her phone probably connected to her car so the apple watch and airpods weren't necessary when she was driving. Exactly what time is the interstate video start time? Exactly what time did she call 911? Exactly what time did she call her sister in law? I can't figure out how she saw something or someone from a long distance and had time to call etc. Would she have been getting off at that next exit? If so, then maybe she was already slowing down preparing to exit when she saw the toddler. I pray for her safety and that the other drivers saw something that can help. I would think it would take a moment to process seeing something and then call 911. But maybe Carlee was the type to act quickly on her instincts and didn't think twice about calling 911. Maybe it was a doll that looked like a toddler. I can't imagine anyone using a toddler to abduct someone unless they had one of those kid leash things. Just trying to piece it together and brainstorm. All of my posts are strictly my opinion
The interstate video starts around exactly one minute before calling 911. She exits her car around 53 seconds, so that aligns for when they say they took her call and when they arrived on scene. I’m guessing maybe somewhere around the 2 minute mark is when she made the call to her brothers girlfriend. I’m not sure how long that call lasted. The video in total is around 4 minutes and 40 seconds, so she vanished in a span of guesstimating the last 2 minutes and 40 seconds of the video.
 
This case is perplexing. Looking at various possibilities, all leave many questions.
If someone got in her car at Taziki’s and made her drive, why would they have her stop on a busy highway? Where would the child sighting and 911 call play into this scenario?
If this was a planned disappearance, this is a very elaborate ruse and not a very practical one. Surely there are other areas not on a busy highway where she could ditch her vehicle, leave her digital electronics, her wig, and IDs, and disappear into the night.
If this was a planned stranger abduction, gang related initiation, or otherwise, the perpetrator(s) would have no idea of who the victim would ultimately be; a trucker, a car full of people, or a vulnerable woman alone on a dark highway.
I do believe Carlee may have seen what she believed to be a child off the roadside. I think maybe she did go up and turn around at the next exit, then turned again to redrive the route she was on, driving in the breakdown lane with her flashers on to try and spot the “child”. I think perhaps a mannequin, a large doll, or even a live person was propped up against the “legs” of the sign as a bait. This would explain her getting out, going around to the passenger side of her vehicle and calling in the wooded area area asking, “Are you all right?”. At that point, she was assaulted while her attention was drawn to the wooded area by the sign and taken away, hence the scream heard by her brother’s fiancé. The perpetrators at this time probably had no idea that she had already called 911.
Hopefully, LE has a lot more than that traffic video.

The loose timeline as of now looks like this:

10 min drive from Taziki’s to where the car was found.

9::00 Left Taziki’s

9:18 talked to mother

9:34 911 call

9:36 brother’s gf

9:39 LE arrives at scene

If correct, I believe it did give her enough time to pass the area once and then double back.
IMO

 
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The image quality of that video on my phone is garbage. To anyone who has watched it on a better screen: can you see Carlee exiting the vehicle? I was really watching for it, but couldn’t see it. Some of the semis driving by lit up the area with their headlights but not well enough.

I am stuck on a few things here:
1) how long she rode the shoulder with her hazards on. How did she spot a child in the dark from that far away? Or do we think she just took a little while to decide she should stop after spotting what she thought was a kid?
2) it’s just insane that whatever transpired happened SO quickly between when she got off of the phone with 911 (those calls usually take a couple minutes) and when the police arrived on the scene. Assuming there was a small child being used as bait, someone had to be “hunting” for a random victim, right? Could have have been a 6 foot 3 trucker who stopped to help just as easily as a single woman, right? So what would the motivation be? A serial killer? A random kidnapper? Robbery? (they left her car, phone and belongings). It’s just so bizarre.

I’m not making any assumptions at all because frankly I have zero inkling as to what could have happened here. I just hope she’s returned home safely to her loved ones
 
Wow, it’s so baffling to see how many other cars were on the road at the time, in regard to no other sightings of the child or Carlee’s disappearance. I do like another poster’s theory that she perhaps exited off the highway and circled back to take a look at what she may have seen.

I think see her exiting the driver’s side of the vehicle around the 50 second mark. If she walked towards the ditch, I suppose she would have been out of the vantage point of other drivers in the dark.

I wonder if it’s possible that she saw a wild animal, bear, bobcat, cougar? As she got closer she may have been attacked and dragged away. I would imagine that they would have been able to find evidence of this by now though.
 
With how she is driving in the video, I agree that it appears that she circled back to look again. She may not have called 911 until she got close again the second time and felt that she had verified that she was seeing something concerning.
 
Officials say around 8:20 p.m. Thursday night, just an hour before Carlee Russell disappeared, she left her job for the day in The Summit.

Russell then took a turn onto Highway 280 as she headed towards The Colonnade. That’s where she made a stop to grab a bite to eat before heading on the road to go home.

“She left Tatzikis about 9 she called me around 9:19,” said Talitha Russell, Carlee’s mother. “She apparently was getting close to home.”

After grabbing her food, Russell then made her way onto I-459 heading South.

After passing the Hoover flyover near the Galleria, officials say she reportedly noticed a child that looked like a toddler walking alone along the side of the interstate near mile marker 11 right before exit 10.
*sounds on the fly. with this description, I now have fell off the fence and don’t think it was staged at all… she’s gone and so is the child.

It appears to be a quick 5 minute drive from The Summit to Tatziki's at the Colonnade. If she left work at 8:20 and grabbed her take out at 9, what was she doing for the 35 minutes or so between leaving work and grabbing take out? Who did she see? Who did she talk to? Was the restaurant super busy and had a crazy wait time for take out? If not, did she meet up with anyone before heading over to the restaurant after work?
 
I've seen some comments saying her wig was left behind so that signals abduction. I do think it is abduction, but she may have also taken her wig off on her way home after a long day. I've never worn one, but I've heard they can be hot and itchy. So I don't think the wig being left behind necessarily means anything.
 
Her driving so long with her hazards on had me perplexed, but then I tried to think what I might do if I *thought* I saw a child on the side of the highway. I would first probably assume I was mistaken and that my mind was playing tricks on me, but then, to ease my mind, I would probably get off at the next exit, turn around, and drive back towards where I had thought I saw something. Driving slowly down the shoulder of the road with my hazards on would allow me to do that fairly safely.

The apple watch in her purse doesn't really concern me since I know a lot of people who aren't allowed to wear their apple watches at work or in class so she could have very well put it in her purse for a completely innocent reason.

Having said that, I am still perplexed about what actually happened here. Nothing seems to fit and that video only gives me more questions than answers.
 
Hannah Graham was the girl in the video at the outdoor mall. Morgan Harrington was also a victim, but not the first. The first survived her attack. Jesse Matthew was the serial rapist/murder.
Yes! Thank you. LE released the video of Hannah's last sighting, not realizing the killer was on it, but the public spotted him...and tied him to another murder. It was crazy. It wasn't planned that way by LE when they released the video, but that's what happened.

jmo
 
I don't see a toddler.
I don't see a car stopping like it suddenly saw a toddler.
I don't see other cars reacting like they see a toddler wandering or a woman being attacked.
I think all of the other 'lights' that people see are just reflections on the camera lens from cars/trucks.
I'd say similar about the shadows on signs... vehicle lights hitting the backs of other vehicles.

I don't know what happened - but it just looks nothing like what I'd expect a trap/attack/kidnapping to look like - and that would seem to be about the worst place one could pick for something like that to happen unobserved.
 
Russell called and reported seeing a toddler walking on I-459 South, and stopped by Mile Marker 11, police said.

Russell's cell phone was also found by police at the scene, and investigators are analyzing it, Lowe said.

FOX affiliate WBRC obtained a video of the traffic camera at the moment that Russell pulled to the side of the road. In the footage, her vehicle is seen from a distance with its hazard lights on.

Carlee's mother Talitha Russell said her daughter was on the phone with a family member when she pulled over to check on the child.

"Her car door was open," Talitha Russell said. "They have found her wig and her hat, and her cell phone."

The phone is now undergoing a forensic examination to see if there are any clues to help them find Carlee.
 
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