HOOVER, Ala. - The search continues for a 25-year-old woman who disappeared when she pulled over on an Alabama interstate and told family members she was stopping to check on a child.
Just after 9:30 p.m. Carlethia "Carlee" Nichole Russell called 911 and then spoke to a family member, saying that she saw a child walking on the side of Interstate 459 South near Mile Market 11 in Hoover, Alabama.
FOX affiliate WBRC obtained a video of the traffic camera at the moment that Russell pulled to the side of the road. In the footage, her vehicle is seen from a distance with its hazard lights on.
Carlee's mother Talitha Russell said her daughter was on the phone with a family member when she pulled over to check on the child.
"My daughter-in-law could hear her ask if the child was OK, and the child didn't respond - at least she didn't hear her respond," Russell said. "Then she heard our daughter Carlee scream."
While the family lost contact with Carlee Russell, the line remained open.
When officers arrived at the location, they found Russell's red Mercedes still running on the side of the road. There were no signs of the woman or the child she was trying to help.
"Her car door was open," Talitha Russell said. "They have found her wig and her hat, and her cell phone."
Carlee's mother says her daughter's purse containing her Apple Watch and AirPods were still inside the vehicle.
The phone is now undergoing a forensic examination to see if there are any clues to help them find Carlee. Investigators say no children had been reported missing in the area.
Police say a witness reported seeing a man standing beside Russell’s vehicle just before officers arrived at the scene.
"A single witness has reported possibly seeing a gray vehicle with a light-complexioned male standing outside Carlee's vehicle," Hoover Police Lt. Daniel Lowe said at a press conference.
Carlee Russell (Hoover Police Department)
Officers are now working every angle they can to try to solve the mystery of Carlee's disappearance.
Who is Carlee Russell?
Russell is described as being 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighing about 150 to 160 pounds.
She was last seen wearing a black shirt, black pants, and black tennis shoes.
Investigators believe Russell got off work around 8:20 p.m. from a business at The Summit in Birmingham, picked up food and then drove towards Hoover, where she lives with her parents.
The day she disappeared, Russell went to Harpersville, where officials say she briefly interacted with members of the city's police department.
"We were honored to spend time with this smart, courteous and honoring young woman yesterday. 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," the Harpersville Police Department wrote on Facebook. "When this news broke, so did our hearts. This world needs many, many more young women and young men like her."
AL.com reports that Russell is a student at Jefferson State Community College and is studying to be a registered nurse.
Jefferson State wrote on Facebook that it is "praying for her safe return" and that they were "extremely concerned" for her safety.
Her parents are desperately hoping someone knows something that can lead to Carlee being found.
"If anyone sees anything, no matter how minute, please contact 911," Carlee's father Carlos Russell said.
A private donor has come forward to offer a $25,000 reward, in addition to the $5,000 being offered by Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama.
Authorities have not shared any details about what may have happened to Carlee, but say they are investigating every tip they get.
"We currently are investigating every possibility,’’ Lowe said. "We’re certainly leaving nothing off the table."
If you have any information that could help with the investigation, call 911, Detective Brad Fountain at (205) 444-7562, Sergeant Drew Mims at (205) 739-7274, or Crimestoppers of Metro Alabama at (205) 254-7777.
This story is being reported out of Atlanta.