Did Carlee Russell kidnap herself? Timeline of events

Carlee Russell kidnap timeline

In an intriguing turn of events from Hoover, Alabama, a 25-year-old nursing student named Carlee Russell faces allegations of staging her own kidnapping. The young woman’s disappearance and search efforts had captured the nation’s attention. Despite miraculously returning home unharmed after two days, questions remain surrounding her ordeal. Let’s take a look at the timeline of events surrounding Carlee Russell’s disappearance and understand if she really did kidnap herself. 

A complete timeline of the Carlee Russell case

Online searches before disappearance

According to Hoover police, the most important clue that raised suspicion about Carlee Russell’s kidnapping is a string of strange online searches she made in the days leading up to her disappearance.

The search queries included topics like “Do you have to pay for an Amber alert” on July 11, and more alarmingly, “How to take money from a register without being caught” and “The movie ‘Taken‘” on July 13. 

Furthermore, she looked up “Birmingham bus station” and a “one-way bus ticket from Birmingham to Nashville” for July 13, which hints at a possible plan to leave the area.

The Mysterious 911 Call

An hour before the call, the 25-year-old ordered food from a mall and stopped at a Target to buy snacks. On Thursday, July 13, at approximately 9:34 PM, Carlee Russell called 911 to report a toddler on the highway. She said that she had stopped to check on the boy.

During the brief call, Russell travelled a significant distance of about 600 yards, equivalent to approximately six football fields. It remains unclear why she drove while talking to the dispatcher about the toddler.

Disappearance reported

Just two minutes after the 911 call, at 9:36 PM, Carlee Russell contacted a family member. However, during the call, she vanished without any warning. The family member lost contact with Carlee but kept the line open. 

Suspecting something was off, the family member informed Hoover police that Russell had been on the phone with a relative who heard her scream during the conversation. Officers rushed to discover her belongings at the scene, except for the snacks she purchased at Target.

49 hours of an extensive search

Local, state, and federal agencies joined forces to find the missing Carlee Russell as they launched a massive search operation. Volunteers joined her family to look for the kidnapped woman in the hopes of finding her. 

To gather more leads, Hoover police authorities released a recent photo of Carlee Russell and announced a reward of at least $50,000 for any information leading to her whereabouts.

Carlee Russell was found alive

On Saturday, July 15, at around 10:45 PM, Carlee Russell returned home on foot, almost 49 hours after her disappearance. Her parents notified her return to the authorities, as officers and medics promptly responded. 

She was taken to a hospital for evaluation. Despite her safe return, Carlee’s condition and the circumstances of her kidnapping and reappearance raised more questions than answers.

Will the investigation continue?

Authorities are still investigating the mysterious 49 hours during which Carlee Russell was missing. In her account of the night of July 13, she stated that a man with orange hair emerged from the woods and claimed to be checking on a child. 

He then allegedly forced her over a fence and into a car, where a woman had a crying baby. Carlee claimed she escaped at some point but was recaptured, undressed, and taken to a house.

As of now, there is no confirmed statement yet on what truly happened to Russell. Police authorities are cross-checking all details of Carlee Russell’s story to make sure that the kidnapping did, in fact, happen. If it didn’t, and the young woman staged it, serious charges await her.


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