After her return home following her 48-hour disappearance, Russell's family is reflecting on seeing her again for the first time after she vanished on an Alabama highway on July 13 under harrowing circumstances.
"We tried to hug her as best we could, but I had to stand back because she was not in a good state," her mom Talitha Robinson-Russell told NBC News in a July 18 interview. "So, we had to stand back and let medical professionals work with her."
According to a press release shared by the Hoover Police Department, at around 9:34 p.m. on July 13, Russell called both 911 and a family member to report seeing a young child wandering alone on the interstate. However, when police arrived, they found Russell's car and some of her belongings—but no sign of the 25-year-old or any toddler. Authorities also confirmed did not receive any other calls involving a missing child.
Russell's parents declined to share details on what their daughter has told them about the time she went missing, citing the ongoing investigation. However, they did address speculation that the disappearance was a hoax.
"She's having to deal with the trauma of people just making completely false allegations about her," her mom said. "Carlee has given detectives her statement, so that they can continue to pursue her abductor."
Her mom also made it clear that they believe she fought to stay alive during those two days.
"There were moments when she physically had to fight for her life," Robinson-Russell said, "and there were moments when she had to mentally fight for her life. She made it back."
When asked if they were looking at an individual involved, police told NBC News that they're "following up on all information provided by Carlee."
Hoover Police Capt. Keith Czeskleba previously confirmed that Russell was taken to a hospital for further evaluation and was treated and released upon her return home. Additionally, she also gave a statement to authorities.
"The details of that statement are a part of the ongoing investigation which is expected to continue over the next few days," a spokesperson for the department previously told NBC News. "During the initial portion of the investigation, detectives were able to retrace nearly all of Carlee's steps until the point she went missing and are confident that will continue to be the case."
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