Carlee Russell’s mother releases statement: ‘We will not be bullied’

The parents of Carlethia "Carlee" Nichole Russell released a second statement to counter growing social media speculation of what happened to the 25-year-old Alabama woman who went missing when she pulled over on the interstate to check on a child.

Talitha Robinson-Russell praised God for bringing Carlee back to her after a harrowing 48 hours without any answers in a statement made to WBRC on Tuesday evening.

"On behalf of Carlee Russell and her family, we first want to sincerely acknowledge and thank everyone for all your prayers, reward contributions through Crime Stoppers, and all the numerous acts of kindness shown to us. We asked God to perform, and He did. We understand and appreciate the sincere concern, however, we would like the public to understand a few things. First and foremost, Carlee’s physical and mental wellbeing is our immediate concern. This has been a traumatic experience for Carlee, and secondly for our family," the statement begins. "Secondly, this is an outstanding investigation, and we have fully cooperated with authorities from the onset and will continue to do so."

The investigation began Thursday night along Interstate 459 South near Mile Marker 11 in Hoover, Alabama. Carlee called 911, and then spoke to a family member as she described seeing a young child walking along the side of the busy highway. 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 by the interstate, but they were unable to find her or a child in the area. 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.

"Carlee has given detectives her statement, and hopefully they are pursuing her abductor. It will be up to law enforcement to determine what information they want to release and when they want to release this information as to not compromise the investigation," the statement continued.


Monday, Carlee’s family said she had to fight for her life at times. While acknowledging they couldn’t share many details about what Carlee has told them due to the investigation, they say that they believe she was "absolutely" abducted and the person who did it is still out there.

The family is now pushing back against speculation from strangers interested in the case, asking people to please just let the investigation go forward.

The statement also answers several questions, such as what happened to the reward money for her safe return.

"Further, we understand there are some questions about the reward donations through CrimeStoppers. It is my understanding from information I received when the reward was set up that any donations received that were not used for the reward would be returned to each donor," the statement continues. "Lastly, when we initially asked for the help of the public in searching and praying for Carlee’s safe return, we asked for sincere prayers not prayers or support that came with strings or entitlement."

The family also warns people against others who may want to use what Carlee went through to scam others out of money.

"We have not created nor authorized any GoFundMe accounts nor solicited money from anyone," the statement reads.

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Carlee Russell  (Hoover Police Department)

While investigators work to piece together a timeline of events in Carlee’s missing 48 hours, public speculation about the ordeal has taken its toll on the family.

"Please understand our mental state and the anguish we have just experienced, and that Carlee is still dealing with, and understand that no matter how many demands or false narratives that are produced, we will not be bullied into doing anything that will compromise our daughter’s mental wellbeing or the investigation," the statement reads. "Also, we will not entertain the negative social media comments with a response, so you find someone to do it. God has been too good to us and brought our daughter safely home, and we will not participate in allowing this moment to be tainted."

While they are relieved by their daughter being home, the family felt they needed to address those who they say purposely misled them and gave them false hopes.

"There is one terrible and heartless hoax we want to address out of several. I received a text at some point from someone claiming to be Carlee and that she was at the Red Roof Inn. However, when my family went there and knocked on doors and looked for her and there was no indication Carlee was there, nor that she had ever been there. Any further questions or comments about the case will need to be directed to Hoover Police or the ABI," the statement concludes.

No word on when more details in the case will be released.