BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Carlee Russell’s mother indicated that she has reason to believe her daughter was abducted during the two days she went missing last week, telling a correspondent on the “Today” show that Russell “fought for her life” during the ordeal.
Russell, 25, had gone missing on July 13, after calling police to report a toddler on the side of the Alabama interstate. She then phoned a family member, telling them she planned to check on the child.
But the call got disconnected, and police officers arrived minutes later to find only Russell’s car, phone, purse and wig at the scene.
Russell ultimately returned home “on foot” two nights later, and was transported to a local hospital for evaluation and treatment, police said.
Officials with the Hoover Police Department have not commented on Russell’s whereabouts during her disappearance, citing an ongoing investigation. But her parents previously told Nexstar’s WIAT they believed she was intentionally lured out of her car and abducted on the interstate.
“It’s very clear that she was abducted from the phone call that she last had with one of our relatives. They heard her scream,” Russell’s mother, Talitha Robinson-Russell, told WIAT the day before her daughter returned home.
In another interview with the “Today” show on Tuesday morning, Robinson-Russell maintained that her daughter had been abducted during the two days she was missing.
Joined by husband Carlos Russell, Robinson-Russell told NBC News correspondent Priscilla Thompson that they were filled with joy when their daughter returned Saturday night.
“We tried to hug her as best we could, but I had to stand back because she was not in a good state,” Robinson-Russell said. “So, we had to stand back and let medical professionals work with her.”
Robinson-Russell claimed her daughter is currently dealing with the “trauma of people just making completely false allegations about her.” But she and her husband declined to share what Russell told them when she returned home, citing the ongoing investigation.
During the interview, Thompson asked Russell’s parents if they believed she was fighting for her life during those 50 hours.
“Oh, she definitely fought for her life,” Robinson-Russell said. “There were moments when she physically had to fight for her life, and there were moments when she mentally had to fight for her life.”
Robinson-Russell added that Russell has already given a statement to detectives “so that they can pursue her abductor.” When the NBC News correspondent asked if they believed an alleged abductor was still at large, Robinson-Russell said she did.
“Absolutely,” she said. “Absolutely.”
Hoover Police are expected to hold a news conference on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. regarding the investigation into Russell’s disappearance.