HOOVER, Ala. - Carlethia "Carlee" Nichole Russell, the 25-year-old Alabama woman who became the subject of a two-day search when she vanished after pulling over on an Alabama interstate to check on a child, has been found safe.
FOX affiliate WBRC reports Russell showed up at the home in Hoover, Alabama that she shared with her parents at around 10:45 p.m. Saturday.
"She walked up, banged on the door, and that was her," Hoover Police Chief Nicholas Derzis told the station.
The once-missing woman is now at a local hospital for evaluation.
Officials have not released any details about where Russell was, how she got back home, or her condition.
"We work with facts," Derzis said. "With social media, you got so many people that think they know what’s taken place. Right now, we’re just very pleased that she’s home."
Derzis says that investigators plan to eventually sit down with Russell to talk about what happened after she went missing.
The first thing is to give Carlee and family a little time to get themselves back together," he added. "I know it’s been a tough experience for them. When we think it’s time to sit down and have a conversation with Carlee and try to get some facts, we’ll do that."
The search began for Russell on Thursday night. That night, she called 911 and then spoke to a family member, saying that she saw a young child walking on the side of Interstate 459 South near Mile Market 11 in Hoover, Alabama.
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 by the interstate, but they were unable to find her or a child in the area.
"Her car door was open," Talitha Russell said. "They have found her wig and her hat, and her cell phone."
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)
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.
After news of her disappearance spread, a private donor came forward to offer a $25,000 reward, in addition to the $5,000 being offered by Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama. That reward eventually increased to $55.,000
This story is being reported out of Atlanta.