Carlee Russell, the Alabama woman who was reported missing for 49 hours last week, had searched for one-way bus tickets to Nashville, information about Amber alerts, and details related to the movie "Taken," starring Liam Neeson, online, on the day she mysteriously disappeared, police said on Wednesday.
Two days after her disappearance, Carlee reappeared and told authorities that she had been abducted. The 25-year-old claimed that she went to help a toddler she saw on the side of the road when she was taken. According to Carlee's account, a white man with 'orange hair' emerged from the trees along I-459 after she noticed a "baby boy in a diaper" walking along the road around 9:30 pm on Thursday.
Carlee's story of abduction and her reappearance is shrouded in mystery, with her account not matching the police investigation. Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis informed reporters on Wednesday that the police still do not have a clear understanding of what transpired during the time Carlethia "Carlee" Nichole Russell went missing on July 13.
They are currently waiting to conduct another interview with her to gather more information and insights into the situation.
"That's the $100 question, we don't know what happened after she got out of her car," Derzis said. "Everything else is unknown."
Also, new details emerged on Wednesday that reveal Carlee's movements ahead of her disappearance.
Derzis said that on the day of Carlee's disappearance, she searched for the film "Taken," a movie where Liam Neeson plays a retired CIA agent, pursuing his daughter's abductors after they kidnap her in France.
She also looked up, "How to take money from a register without being caught," as well as info for one-way bus tickets from Birmingham, Alabama, to Nashville.
Records revealed that in the days preceding the incident, Carlethia "Carlee" Nichole Russell had conducted several notable searches on her phone concerning Amber Alerts, which is an emergency notification system for child abductions.
She even looked up information to see if she was too old to be the subject of an Amber Alert.
Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis stressed that Russell's family has been cooperative with the police throughout the investigation.
"The focus was to get Carlee home, that's all we wanted, her home safe and sound," the chief said, noting that there is now pressure, given the national spotlight on the case, to uncover what happened.
"We want to know the truth," he added.
However, the case doesn't look so simple as Carlee's accounts don't match the police findings. Although Carlee's family has been cooperating, she isn't. During the press conference, Hoover Police revealed that new evidence that points to her disappearance being a hoax.
"We have been unable to verify most of her initial statements, and we have no reason to believe there is a threat to public safety," Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis said.
Detectives refrained from directly accusing Carlee of intentionally providing false information, instead raising questions about her mental state. However, they expressed their difficulty in believing her abduction story.
Authorities said that Carlee is now declining to be interviewed for a second time, despite initially providing them with an elaborate account of her abduction.
"She said a man came out of the trees and mumbled that he was checking on the baby, then picked her up and took her over a fence and into a car.
"She said the next thing she remembered was being in the trailer of an 18-wheeler, and that there was a female whose voice she heard but who she didn't see.
"She told detectives she could hear a baby crying, and that the male had orange hair," Chief Derzis said.
According to Carlee's account, she managed to flee the pair before being recaptured.
"She says they blindfolded her but didn't tie her up because they didn't want to leave compression marks," Chief Derzis said.
According to Carlee's statement to the police, she claimed that the abductors made her undress and took photographs of her body. However, she said that they did not physically or sexually harm her during the incident.
Newly revealed information shows that before her disappearance, Carlee was captured on surveillance cameras stealing a dark bathrobe and toilet paper from The Woodhouse Spa, where she was employed.
She also purchased Cheez-Its and granola bars from Target, believed to be items she took with her when she vanished.
Her phone, wig, and Apple Watch were discovered in her car, along with take-out food she had ordered from a nearby restaurant close to her workplace.
Moreover, it was found that she had driven approximately 600 yards (equivalent to the length of six football fields) while on the phone with a 911 operator, claiming to be observing a baby boy on the side of the road.
During the press conference, detectives played the recording of Carlee's calm 911 call, in which she reported seeing a child on the side of the road.
Police said that they are continuing their investigation to determine the precise events that occurred during the 49 hours Carlee went missing, including the circumstances leading up to her sudden disappearance.
Family members of Russell have claimed that the child mentioned in her 911 call and a call to family was possibly used as "bait" by human traffickers to lure her out of her vehicle and kidnap her.
According to Russell's parents and her boyfriend, she bravely fought for her life while attempting to escape from the kidnappers. They believe the kidnappers are still at large and pose a threat.