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Carlee Russell’s employer breaks silence on ‘sensitive’ investigation into her bizarre disappearance

Owner of Woodhouse Spa in Birmingham where Carlee Russell was working on the night of her disappearance says he is cooperating with ‘sensitive’ investigation

Bevan Hurley
Wednesday 19 July 2023 16:16 BST
Carlee Russell's parents sit down w TODAY: 'She fought for her life'

A beauty spa where nursing student Carlee Russell was working on the night she vanished from the side of an Alabama interstate says it is cooperating with a “sensitive” police investigation into her disappearance.

Ms Russell, 25, left the Woodhouse Spa in the Summit luxury shopping mall in Birmingham at about 8.20pm on 13 July, according to authorities.

She called 911 at 9.34pm that night to report seeing a toddler wandering on the side of Interstate 459, and when police arrived five minutes Ms Russell had vanished while the engine of her car was still running.

Ms Russell turned up on foot at just over two days later at her parents’ home in Hoover, and her family has since said she was kidnapped and barely survived.

In a statement to WVTM, Woodhouse Spa owner Stuart Rome said he had turned over “everything we uncovered” to the Hoover Police Department.

“We understand the investigation is in a very sensitive state and do not want to release any details that could jeopardize the investigation,” Mr Rome added.

“Leaks, both true and untrue, can have a devastating impact on any investigation. We understand there are many posts on social media claiming certain information to be true. Some items are factual while others are not.”

Ms Russell’s wellbeing had always been his greatest concern, Mr Rome added.

“Woodhouse Spa employees have been deeply impacted by the events that transpired but are now ecstatic with the news of Carlee’s return home. Our employees worked extremely hard through very tough times keeping guests happy while dealing with the fact that their co-worker was missing,” he said.

“We have great confidence in the investigators and expect a resolution soon.”

On Wednesday, Hoover Police released a statement to say it had found no evidence that Ms Russell was trying to help a missing toddler when she disappeared.

Carlee Russell’s family says she was abducted after stopping to help a toddler, but police are yet to confirm key details in their story (Hoover Police Department)

Police have continued to piece together a timeline of the perplexing case, and disclosed on Wednesday that Ms Russell had stopped at a Target to buy snacks shortly before she was reported missing.

Ms Russell also stopped at Taziki’s Cafe in Colonnade mall to pick up food for herself and her mother, before driving south onto Interstate 459.

The Jefferson State Community College nursing student reportedly came across a young boy aged three or four in diapers walking along the side of the highway near mile marker 11 a few minutes later.

When police officers arrived, they found her red Mercedes still running and belongings including a wig, phone, Apple Watch and purse, but no sign of her or the toddler.

A desperate search involving local, state and federal law enforcement, and members of Ms Russell’s family found no confirmed sightings of the missing woman.

Around 49 hours later, Ms Russell turned up at the home she shared with her parents. Police said they had obtained surveillance footage of the moment she returned home.

Hoover police are expected to provide an update on the case on Wednesday afternoon.

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