The relieved parents of the Alabama woman who returned home over the weekend after vanishing for over 48 hours say their daughter “definitely” fought for her life during the unexplained ordeal — and added that they believe her purported abductor is still at large.
“We tried to hug her as best we could, but I had to stand back because she was not in a good state,” Talitha Robinson-Russell told NBC News’ Priscilla Thompson of the moment her daughter Carlethia “Carlee” Nichole Russell turned up on the family’s doorstep in Hoover around 10:45 p.m. Saturday.
Russell, 25, disappeared on Thursday night shortly after calling police to report a toddler walking along I-459, authorities said.
The nursing student was on the phone with her sister-in-law when she allegedly pulled over to help the tot, and was heard screaming before the line went silent.
Her car was later found running with her belongings still inside.
There were also no other reports of a wandering child, police said.
During their sit-down with Thompson, Russell’s parents said she “definitely fought for her life” during the two-day ordeal.
“There were moments when she physically had to fight for her life, and there were moments when she had to mentally fight for her life,” Robinson-Russell explained.
Russell’s parents declined to provide specifics about where their daughter was while she was missing or what happened to her, citing the Hoover police’s ongoing investigation.
They did say, however, they were confident that Russell was abducted — and that the person responsible is still out there.
The emotional couple also discouraged ongoing speculation about the case, which they said started even before Russell returned home.
“There were actually so many calls and texts from people who maliciously lied to us … I just didn’t know people could be so evil,” Robinson-Russell said.
“She’s having to deal with the trauma of people just making completely false allegations about her,” she added of her daughter, who she said has also provided a full statement to investigators.
Police previously said Russell returned to her parents’ house “on foot,” and she appeared to be “in shock.”
“She was literally fighting for her life for 48 hours, so until she’s physically & mentally stable again, she is not able to give any updates or whereabouts on her kidnapper at this very moment,” Russell’s boyfriend, Thomar Latrell Simmons, wrote on Facebook Sunday.
That same day, Russell’s parents alleged that the child she saw on the road was “bait” to lure her to a sinister fate.
A human trafficking expert questioned that theory Monday, telling Insider “this is not a tactic that traffickers use.”
SOURCE: New york post