A 25-year-old woman in Alabama was last heard from on Thursday night after telling a 911 dispatcher that she saw a toddler walking along the side of an interstate and would pull over to help, prompting a sprawling search for her as investigators raced to find clues about her disappearance.
The woman, Carlee Russell, told the dispatcher about the child around 9:34 p.m., called a family member to report the same details and then pulled over on I-459 South near mile marker 11 to check on the toddler, the Hoover Police Department said.
The family member “lost contact” with Ms. Russell, but the line remained opened, the police said.
When officers arrived at the site in Hoover, a suburb of Birmingham, they found Ms. Russell’s vehicle and some of her belongings nearby, “but were unable to find her or a child in the area,” the police said in a statement.
The Hoover Police Department said it had not received any calls of someone missing a child.
Ms. Russell had left work around 8:20 p.m. at a business in a shopping area called the Summit in Birmingham, officials said.
After work, she also stopped to pick up food, the police said.
One witness reported seeing a gray vehicle with a man standing outside of Ms. Russell’s vehicle, but it was unclear where or when that occurred. The Hoover police did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment on Saturday night.
Ms. Russell, who is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs at least 150 pounds, was last seen wearing a black shirt, black pants and white Nike shoes.
The Harpersville Police Department said Friday on Facebook that Ms. Russell, a nursing student, had been in the town, about 30 miles east of Hoover, on Thursday “handling some business.”
The department did not exactly say what Ms. Russell had been doing in Harpersville, but it added she was a “smart, courteous and honoring young woman” who had impressed others with her “respect, poise, good attitude and her drive to become a nursing student and help others.”
It clarified in a separate post on Saturday that she had not been at the police department.
“We consistently encounter citizens while engaging the community and those occasions are primarily positive,” the department said. “We had the pleasure of interacting with a bright young woman which prompted the sharing of the encounter. Our interests are only for the safe return of Ms. Russell to her family.”