Woman Spent Two Days ‘Fighting For Her Life’ After Allegedly Being Kidnapped Along Alabama Highway

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An Alabama woman is home safe after spending two days “fighting for her life” after allegedly being kidnapped along a busy highway, a statement from her boyfriend reads.

Carlethia “Carlee” Nichole Russell, 25, returned home on foot after allegedly being kidnapped when she stopped to help a toddler who was wandering alongside I-459 near Hoover on Thursday evening, FOX 5 Atlanta reported.

Russell reported the wandering child to 911, telling police the child was a male and dressed only in a diaper, according to WVTM 13 News. After speaking with authorities, Russell allegedly called a family member as she went to check on the child.

“My daughter-in-law could hear her [on the phone] ask if the child was OK, and the child didn’t respond – at least she didn’t hear her respond,” Russell’s mother, Talitha, told FOX 5 Atlanta. “Then she heard our daughter Carlee scream.”

Authorities found Russell’s still-running red Mercedes parked at the side of the road when they arrived on-scene, as well as her phone and personal belongings, FOX5 reported. There was no sign of Russell or the toddler, according to the outlet.

One witness, identified only as a trucker, told police a grey vehicle had pulled in front of Russell’s vehicle and a light-complexioned male was standing just beside it, FOX5 reported. Authorities later disputed that claim after reviewing traffic footage that seemingly showed Russell driving on the side of the highway with her emergency lights flashing. “From the time that she stopped to the time that the first officer hits the blue lights and gets to the scene — we do not see another vehicle pull over or anything like that,” Hoover Police Chief Nicholas Derzis said, according to The New York Times.

Though footage does not appear to show another vehicle in the area, Russell’s parents expressed their belief that the child was used as bait to lure Russell out of her car and into the hands of kidnappers, WVTM 13 reported.

After two days of searching, Russell inexplicably appeared on her family’s doorstep after 10 p.m. Saturday night and was later transported to a local hospital for evaluation, according to the outlet. Still, the details surrounding Russell’s reported disappearance remain unclear. Police did confirm they obtained a statement from Russell while she was at the hospital, as part of their ongoing investigation into the incident, ABC 3340 reported. (RELATED: Missing Teen Who Disappeared For 8 Years While Walking Dogs Never Really Gone, Neighbors Allege)

“She was literally fighting for her life for 48 hours, so until she’s physically & mentally stable again she is not able to give any updates or whereabouts on her kidnapper at this very moment,” Russell’s boyfriend, Thomar Simmons, said in a Facebook statement.

Family members have expressed great relief at Russell’s safe return, thanked first responders for their efforts and asked that their privacy be respected, promising to give a general statement when they are free to do so given the ongoing investigation.

On July 18, Hoover Police Department announced they had “not located any evidence of a toddler walking down the interstate, nor did we receive any additional calls about a toddler walking down the interstate, despite numerous vehicles passing through that area as depicted by the traffic camera surveillance video.”