Carlee Russell, who vanished from her Hoover, Alabama, home on July 13 and was found two days later, has been the target of a cloud of enraged suspicion.
According to the New York Post, Stuart Rome, the owner of the Woodhouse spa in Birmingham where Ruseell worked, terminated her when the tale she told was subjected to increased scrutiny.
“As the information came out that there were some questionable things, we’ve been a little pissed off, mainly because so many people took so much time out to search,” Rome said, noting that his employees tried to do their jobs and help search for Russell.
sad sight. search parties in full force looking for carlee russell right before the hoover/bessemer exit. pic.twitter.com/98Zc9Q3GR0
— Logan Adams (@loganwadams) July 14, 2023
Additionally, Russell’s association with it has sparked a flood of hate, ridicule, and abuse on social media.
“Basically, we’ve spent the last day battling to get things deleted,” he said.
“I’ve had to shut down my comment section on Instagram and Facebook page which hurts us because we do a lot of marketing there. We’re just trying to keep the doors open,” he said.
On July 13, at about 9:30 p.m., Rusell called 911 and reported seeing a young child strolling alongside an expressway. When the cops arrived, Russell had already left.
Although Talitha Russell, the girl’s mother, claimed in interviews that Carlee “fought for her life” to get away, Police Chief Nick Derzis claimed that his investigators were unable to “verify most of Carlee’s initial statement.”
“Due to the public fear this case has generated, we owe it to the public to share what we have learned,” Derzis said, according to WESH-TV.
Russell ordered lunch at one restaurant, purchased granola bars and cheese crackers at Target, and concealed a bathrobe and toilet paper when she left her job on Thursday, according to surveillance footage.
Derzis claimed that Rusell covered 600 yards while making her 911 call.
“Six football fields, to think a toddler could travel six football fields, without getting in the road, without crying, it’s very hard to understand,” Derzis said.
Russell, according to Derzis, told police a woman helped a man with orange hair and a bald area force her into a car. Later, she came to in the trailer of a semi-truck.
Russell told police that she was made to strip off her clothes and that she believed her captors were taking photos. According to her, the person who kidnapped her played with her hair and served her cheese crackers.
She claimed that ultimately she managed to get away, went through some woods, and arrived at her home.
She continued, saying that in the end she managed to get away and went through some forests until she was able to navigate and make her way back home on foot.
Derzis said internet searches Russell made the day she disappeared included, “Do you have to pay for an Amber Alert,” “How to take money from a register without being caught,” “Birmingham bus station,” “Taken (a movie about abduction),” and “maximum age for an Amber Alert.”
“There are many questions left to be answered, but only Carlee can answer those questions,” Derzis said. “I do think it’s highly unusual for the day someone gets kidnapped, several hours before that, they’re googling the movie Taken, about an abduction, I find that very strange.”
The Post noted that just minutes before calling 911 she tweeted, “Yeah I want a family now.”
That tweet came after ones that said, “Today was a GREAT day God be looking out I’m telling you!!” and “someone to tell you ‘I love you’ and don’t got a reason.”
Eric Guster, a Birmingham attorney, said so far police are allowing the public to read between the lines, according to WVTM-TV.
“She says she was kidnaped, and a kidnapping didn’t happen. (They say) our citizens are safe. There’s not a kidnapper out there. So, they use every other synonym for lie except saying she lied,” Guster said.
Guster expressed amazement that Russell had not already been charged with three offenses, including theft, lying to the police, and filing a false police report.