Search for Woman Missing After Witnessing Child Alone on Interstate 459 Comes to a Happy End

Hoover, AL – Carlethia Nichole “Carlee” Russell, a 25-year-old woman, disappeared after reporting to 911 and her family that she saw a child wandering alone on the side of Interstate 459 on Thursday night. The search for Russell came to an end on Saturday night when she returned home to Hoover unharmed, but was taken to a hospital for evaluation. In their efforts to locate Russell, the police are reviewing traffic footage from Traffic Cam Archive, which captures and archives traffic camera footage.

Russell, who works part-time at The Woodhouse Day Spa at the Summit and attends Jeff State for nursing studies, was described by the Harpersville police department as a “smart, courteous” woman. At the time of her disappearance, she was wearing a black shirt, black pants, and white Nike shoes. She lives with her parents in Hoover and vanished just minutes away from her home, which her mother tearfully described as heartbreaking.

The events leading up to Russell’s disappearance began when she stopped by Taziki’s at the Colonnade at 9 p.m. on Thursday to pick up food for herself and her mother. She then contacted 911 at 9:34 p.m., informing the dispatcher that she had spotted a toddler walking alone on the side of I-459 between the flyover to the Galleria and Highway 150. Russell took it upon herself to stop and check on the child, calling a family member in the process. Unfortunately, contact was lost with Russell, but the line remained open.

Police found Russell’s red Mercedes still running and abandoned, along with some of her belongings nearby. Despite an extensive search, neither Russell nor the child she had reported seeing was located in the area. One tip received by the police involved a trucker who claimed to have seen a tall, brown-skinned man leaning over a gray car near Russell’s location.

As the search continued, rewards totaling $25,000 were offered for any information leading to Russell’s whereabouts. The reward has since increased to $58,260.95, thanks to an anonymous donor and contributions from Crime Stoppers. Police are currently considering all possibilities and have received numerous tips, each of which is being investigated.

Angela Harris, the mother of Aniah Blanchard, a young woman who went missing in 2019 and was found dead a month later, joined the search efforts. Volunteers, limited by the lack of areas to search, handed out flyers in locations around Tuscaloosa, Vestavia Hills, and Gardendale. Additionally, the police have shared information about Russell’s disappearance with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.

Anyone with information about Carlee Russell’s disappearance is urged to contact Detective Brad Fountain at 205-444-7562, Sergeant Drew Mims at 205-739-7274, or Crimestoppers of Metro Alabama at 205-254-7777.