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Update, July 16, 2023 at 10:16 AM:

Hoover, Alabama police say they will wait until the time is right to interview Carlethia “Carlee” Nichole Russell.

The 25-year-old nursing student went missing after reporting a child wandering on the side of a highway on Thursday (July 13).

Russell showed up at her parents house and knocked on the front door just before 11 p.m. Saturday.

According to WBRC, the Hoover PD 911 center received a call at 10:45 p.m. on Saturday that Russell had returned home to her residence.

Hoover Police Chief Nicholas Derzis said, “She walked up, banged on the door, and that was her.”

Derzis said Russell was alone and he didn’t know how she got to her residence. He said “50 to 60 police officers” were scouring the city looking for her.

A source told a WBRC reporter that Russell was “dropped off” around the corner from her house by “someone she knew.”

Police and Hoover Fire medics responded to the address and transported Russell to a hospital for evaluation. She is expected to be discharged Sunday morning.

Russell went missing around 9:34 p.m. Thursday after she claimed to see a toddler wandering on the side of Interstate 459 near mile marker 10. She called 911 and described the toddler as a white male child, age 3 or 4, wearing a white t-shirt and a diaper.

Police arrived 3 minutes later, but did not find Russell or the child. Traffic camera footage shows there was no child and no one other than Russell on the shoulder of the highway before she ran into the tree line that borders southbound Interstate 459.

Police said Russell left her red Mercedes Benz with the engine running and the driver’s side door open. Her purse was found in the car with her AirPods and Apple watch inside. Her cell phone and a wig were found outside near the car.

Chief Derzis said investigators will wait to sit down with Russell and interview her about what happened.

“The first thing is to give Carlee and family a little time to get themselves back together,” he added. “I know it’s been a tough experience for them. When we think it’s time to sit down and have a conversation with Carlee and try to get some facts, we’ll do that.”

Police said they are not searching for a suspect or suspects and that “the community is safe.”

Watch enhanced traffic cam video below.

Update, July 15, 2023 at 11:56 PM:

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An Alabama nursing student who went missing after reporting a toddler wandering along a highway has been found safe.

Carlee Russell, 25, disappeared after apparently making up a story about a wandering toddler on the side of Interstate 459 on Thursday, July 13.

Rusell called 911 around 9:34 p.m. saying she saw a child wandering alone near the 10 mile marker. However, traffic camera footage did not show a child in the area.

According to Hoover Police Department dispatcher, 6 car loads of Russell’s family members arrived at a Red Roof Inn in Birmingham looking for Russell after she called a family member on Saturday evening.

Twitter users uploaded Hoover police dispatch calls confirming that family members were at the Red Roof Inn.

However, a family member denied the Red Roof Inn story in a Facebook post.

At 11:30 p.m. Saturday, WBRC confirmed that Russell returned home alone and was taken to a local hospital for evaluation.

According to sources, Russell was picked up from a Red Roof Inn in Birmingham and taken home before being transported to a hospital. The Red Roof Inn is a 14 minute drive from her last reported sighting.

Originally published on: Jul 15, 2023 at 10:26 AM:

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Mystery surrounds the disappearance of an Alabama woman who claimed to see a toddler wandering alone near a busy highway on Thursday night.

Video footage from a traffic camera on Interstate 459 shows Carlethia “Carlee” Russell’s car slowly pull over and park on the side of the busy highway just south of Birmingham around 7 p.m. on July 13.

Russell vanished after she called 911 to report seeing a toddler wandering alone on the shoulder of the highway, according to ABC 7 Chicago.

She then called a family member who claimed to hear Russell speaking to the child and asking, “Are you okay?” before she screamed.

The video shows the nursing student get out of her car and walk behind the car to the passenger side where she stopped. Moments later she walked into the darkness and was not seen again.

A police cruiser arrived at the scene and parked behind Russell’s car which was still idling with the hazard lights blinking.

Police found Russell’s purse and cell phone inside the car.

The traffic video does not show a child wandering alone, or any other person near Russell’s car when she stopped on the side of the highway.

Skeptics say there is no way she could have seen a toddler walking in the darkness. There are no street lights on that section of the highway. No other motorist reported seeing a child or an abduction.

Hours before she disappeared, Russell impressed police officers during a brief interaction in Harpersville.

“We were honored to spend time with this smart, courteous and honoring young woman yesterday,” the police department said on social media. “She was handling some business in the Town of Harpersville yesterday and we were so impressed by her respect, poise, good attitude and her drive to become a nursing student and help others.”

Watch the video below.