By Associated Press
HOOVER, Ala (AP) — Police in Alabama searched Friday for a 25-year-old woman who vanished after telling a family member that she was stopping to check on a child she saw walking on the side of an interstate highway.
Hoover police say Carlethia “Carlee” Nichole Russell called 911 Thursday night and then a family member to say she saw a young child walking on the side of I-459. When officers arrived at the location, they found Russell’s car and her cell phone but were unable to find her or a child in the area.
Lt. Daniel Lowe said the family member on the phone with Russell lost contact with her even though the line remained open. He said a single witness reported possibly seeing a gray vehicle and a man standing outside of Carlee’s vehicle, but they have no additional information.
Police asked people to report any information they might have about her disappearance.
“No piece of information is too small in this investigation,” Lowe told reporters Friday.
Lowe said police are pursing all possibilities in the disappearance. ”We’re certainly leaving nothing off the table,” he said when asked if investigators believe she was abducted.
Family members organized a search in the area.
“We’re just gonna scour the earth,” Russell’s dad, Carlos Russell, told WVTM. “There’s no stopping us.”
Talitha Russell told al.com that her daughter was headed home after leaving work and stopping to get food. She was on the phone with her brother’s girlfriend when she said she saw a child on the roadside.
“My son’s girlfriend heard her asking the child, ‘Are you Ok?’ She never heard the child say anything but then she heard our daughter scream,’’ Talitha Russell said. “From there, all you hear on her phone is background noise from the interstate.”
Police said an anonymous donor offered a $20,000 reward for Russell’s safe return and another $5,000 reward is available through Crime Stoppers.
Hoover is about 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of Birmingham.