An Alabama woman has disappeared after reporting a child walking down a highway. Here’s what we know

A 25-year-old woman was found after she went missing while searching for a child walking down an Alabama highway, officials said, leading to questions about what happened while she disappeared from 48 hours.

Carlethia “Carlee” Russell returned alone and on foot to her family home Saturday night, Hoover Police Department Capt. Keith Czeskleba said in a press release. Russell, a nursing student, was taken to a local hospital and then released.

His safe return ended a day of searching that began with a puzzling 911 call on Thursday night.

Carlee Russell (Hoover Police Department via Facebook)

Carlee Russell (Hoover Police Department via Facebook)

What happened to Russell?

Russell called 911 July 13 to report a child was walking along I-459 South, a highway that runs south of Birmingham, Hoover Police Department Lt. Daniel Lowe said.

She reportedly stopped to check on the child while on the phone with a family member, Lowe said.

“She heard a scream, then some kind of running, shuffle-like,” Russell’s mother, Talitha Russell, said, referring to the family member Russell was allegedly on the phone with. “I just sensed immediately that she was in danger.”

The family member lost contact with Russell during the call, but the line remained open. When officers arrived, they found his vehicle running and several of his personal effects.

Her mobile phone and purse were on the road nearby, police said, but they found neither Russell nor the child.

Video footage from the freeway showed a slow-moving vehicle with its turn signals on before Russell disappeared, leading to an urgent search for her.

When was she found?

Russell returned home alone and on foot around 10:45 p.m. on July 15, officials said. She was taken to an area hospital for a full evaluation and has since been discharged.

Angela Harris helped conduct a community search for her and spoke to Russell’s family moments after she returned home.

“It was just a very emotional phone call,” Harris said of speaking to Russell’s family. “I said, ‘Is she okay?’ And she said, “I don’t know. She seems to be fine. She just looks like she’s in shock.”

Where was Russell during those 48 hours?

It is not known what happened to Russell during her disappearance, or who she was with. Police said they had received no further calls of a child walking on the freeway, or any reports of a missing child.

Thomas Latrell Simmons, a man who identified himself as Russell’s boyfriend, wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday that she was found safe.

“She literally fought for her life for 48 hours,” he wrote. “She is in no position to give any news or know the whereabouts of her captor.”

Hoover Police Chief Nicholas C. Derzis told NBC News in a phone call that investigators have spoken to Russell and are following up on information she provided.

Investigators plan to interview Russell again as the investigation continues, police said.

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