UPDATE: During a news conference Wednesday, police laid out a timeline in the search Carlee Russell and her return home.
Hoover Police say Russell gave a brief statement after she reappeared at her home Saturday night, explaining what happened to her.
She claimed she was abducted by a man and woman Thursday night after stopping to check on a small child walking along a highway and was held captive for a day before escaping. She told police she then made her way through a wooded area on foot before arriving back at her home.
However, while relaying her account, the department also released information that calls Russell’s version of events into question.
After detailing her alleged abduction and return home, Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis described some of Russell’s search history in the days leading up to her disappearance, which included searches for information on Amber Alerts, bus schedules and the movie “Taken.” That data was obtained from her phone, which had been left behind at the scene.
Chief Derzis also said that they were unable to corroborate parts of her story, specifically noting that they received no other reports of a child wandering in the area of her disappearance, despite numerous vehicles passing on that same highway. As of Wednesday, police say they’ve still found no evidence substantiating that the story about the child.
Police say they plan to speak with Russell again as soon as possible. Watch the full news conference here.
This is a breaking update. Read the original story below.
HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — The mother of a 25-year-old Alabama woman says her daughter was abducted and fought for her life when she disappeared for two days after calling 911 to report a toddler wandering on a highway. Police say they’re still trying to determine what happened to Carlee Russell before she returned home.
Authorities in Hoover, Alabama, plan to hold a news conference on Wednesday to discuss the case.
Russell’s disappearance last Thursday sparked a frantic search by family and friends. Her return home Saturday prompted intense speculation about where she had been and what had happened to her.
Russell was not in a “good state” when she got back and needed medical care, Talitha Russell told NBC’s “Today” show on Tuesday. She said her daughter gave detectives a statement so they could “continue to pursue her abductor.”
“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.
Police said later Tuesday that detectives had not reached any conclusions about the disappearance. Investigators spoke to Carlee Russell briefly and were waiting for her to be made available for a more detailed statement. But they said they did not uncover any evidence of a toddler walking on the interstate.
“Numerous evidentiary items are still being evaluated, and those items are key in the process of determining exactly what took place in the approximately 49 hours Carlee was missing,” Hoover police said in a statement via Facebook.
Surveillance video from the Russells’ neighborhood showed Carlee Russell walking down the sidewalk alone before arriving at her home. She was conscious and talking when first responders arrived, and later treated and released from a hospital, police said.
Police have said Carlee Russell called a 911 operator Thursday night and then a relative and told both of them she saw a toddler in a diaper on the side of I-459 and was stopping to check on him. When officers arrived at the location, they found her car, cell phone and wig but were unable to find her or a child in the area.
Talitha Russell told al.com last week that her daughter was headed home after leaving work and stopping to get food. Carlee Russell was on the phone with her brother’s girlfriend when they lost contact.
“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. “From there, all you hear on her phone is background noise from the interstate.”
A single witness reported possibly seeing a gray vehicle and a man standing outside Carlee Russell’s vehicle, police have said.
Police said Tuesday that she also stopped for snacks on the way home, but none of the food was found in her car or with her cellphone and wig.
Hoover is about 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of Birmingham.