Carlee Russell’s Parents Speak Out After Her Mysterious Return

Screenshot: NBC News/TODAY

By Kalyn Womack

The parents of the Alabama woman who went missing upon finding a toddler on the side of the road have spoken out for the first time since their daughter returned home. They told TODAY the assumptions of their daughter’s whereabouts have gotten out of hand.

The internet has been speculating what exactly happened when Carlee Russell, 25, disappeared July 13 after pulling over on Interstate 459 to check on a toddler she saw walking on the side of the road. The public’s claim that “something isn’t adding up” in the theory that she was kidnapped have bothered Carlee’s parents, Talitha and Carlos Russell. During the 48 hours of their daughter’s disappearance, they were even trolled with fake phone calls claiming to have tips on Carlee’s whereabouts.

“There were actually just so many calls and texts from people who maliciously lied to us. I just didn’t know people could be so evil,” said Mrs. Russell.

“Carlee has given detectives her statement so that they can continue to pursue her abductor,” Talitha Russell read from the statement. When asked if she believes her daughter’s abductor is still out there, she responded: “Absolutely.”

Russell’s parents declined to share what their daughter told them after she returned, citing the ongoing investigation.

“Anything leading to the case itself, we can’t discuss that,” Talitha Russell said. But Russell’s parents said one thing was clear: They believe she fought for her life.

“There were moments when she physically had to fight for her life, and there were moments when she had to mentally fight for her life,” Talitha Russell said. “She made it back.”

The Russells said they were filled with joy when Carlee came back home but also concerned, saying she was not in a “good state.” The public’s conspiracies about what happened to Carlee have not been making the situation any better.

The Russells urged for the internet trolls and TikTok commentators to refrain from making assumptions about the alleged abduction for the sake of Carlee’s mental recovery. The Hoover Police Department plans to release more details about the incident in the coming days.

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