The parents of a young Black woman who went missing this week in Alabama are speaking out amid a statewide search that has seemingly left officials with more questions than answers.
Family members and friends have been unable to get in contact with Carlethia Nichole “Carlee” Russell since the 25-year-old aspiring nurse said she was going to check on an unaccompanied toddler she saw walking alongside a major highway late on Thursday night in the city of Hoover, according to local police.
Russell called 911 around 9:30 p.m. that night to report the toddler and later told her family that she was going to check on the child herself, police said. But that is the last known contact anybody had with Russell.
When police responded to the call, Russell’s red Mercedes was found pulled over on the side of Interstate 459 South still idling with the driver’s side door open, but no one was there – neither the toddler nor Russell. Notably, police said Friday there have been no reports of a missing toddler.
Russell’s parents pointed to a report from a trucker that a car had pulled in front of the Mercedes, possibly impeding its progress and forcing it to the side of the road, where it was found. Citing that report, Talitha and Carlos Russell suggested the possibility that the toddler was being used as “bait” in a nefarious effort to lure their daughter from her car, according to WVTM 13, a local NBC affiliate based in Birmingham.
That report promoted concerns on social media about the possibility of Russell being a victim of human trafficking.
Talitha Russell recounted to AL.com what happened:
At 9:36 p.m., her mother, Talitha Russell, said her daughter was on the phone with her brother’s girlfriend. Carlee pulled over after saying she saw a child that appeared to be 3 or 4 years old.
“She probably let her guard down thinking 911 would be there in a second‚” Talitha Russell said.
“My son’s girlfriend heard her asking the child, ‘Are you OK? She never heard the child say anything but then she heard our daughter scream,’’ Talitha Russell said. “All you hear on her phone is background noise from the interstate.”
“Her car door was open,” Talitha said. “They found her phone on the ground, along with her wig and her hat…Her purse was still in the car. Her Apple watch was in her purse and her Air Pods as well.”
Talitha Russell said a tip was called in from a trucker.
“He saw a gray car with a tall brown skinned man with khaki shorts on leaning over in the car,’’ Talitha Russell said.
There are two separate rewards totaling $25,000 for any information that leads to Russell’s safety. Police have said they have no solid leads and haven’t ruled out any possibility.
Research conducted by the National Black Women’s Justice Institute shows that “Black women, girls, and gender nonconforming people are disproportionately represented as victims/survivors of trafficking” and that “Black women make up 40% of people who have survived sex trafficking.”
NewsOne hopes for Carlee Russell’s safe return.
The post Where Is Carlee Russell? Missing Black Woman’s Parents Suspect She Was Lured By Toddler On Alabama Highway appeared first on NewsOne.
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