A cloud of angry suspicion has enveloped Carlee Russell, who went missing from her Hoover, Alabama, home on July 13, sparking a massive search that ended when she reappeared two days later.
Since then, as the story she told has been increasingly scrutinized, skepticism began to bubble and led Stuart Rome, owner of the Woodhouse spa in Birmingham, where Ruseell worked, to fire her, according to the New York Post.
“As the information came out that there were some questionable things, we’ve been a little pissed off, mainly because so many people took so much time out to search,” Rome said, noting that his employees tried to do their jobs and help search for Russell.
sad sight. search parties in full force looking for carlee russell right before the hoover/bessemer exit. pic.twitter.com/98Zc9Q3GR0
— Logan Adams (@loganwadams) July 14, 2023
Further, its connection with Russell has spawned a deluge of hate, mockery and criticism on social media.
“Basically, we’ve spent the last day battling to get things deleted,” he said.
“I’ve had to shut down my comment section on Instagram and Facebook page which hurts us because we do a lot of marketing there. We’re just trying to keep the doors open,” he said.
Rusell initially phoned 911 at about 9:30 p.m. on July 13 saying she spotted a toddler walking along an interstate highway. By the time police, arrived, Russell was gone.
Her mother, Talitha Russell, has told interviewers her daughter “fought for her life” to escape, but Police Chief Nick Derzis said his investigators have been “unable to verify most of Carlee’s initial statement.”
“Due to the public fear this case has generated, we owe it to the public to share what we have learned,” Derzis said, according to WESH-TV.
Surveillance video showed that Russell hid a bathrobe and toilet paper when she left work Thursday, ordered food from one restaurant and bought granola bars and cheese crackers at Target.
Derzis said that during Rusell’s call to 911, she traveled 600 yards.
“Six football fields, to think a toddler could travel six football fields, without getting in the road, without crying, it’s very hard to understand,” Derzis said.
Derzis said Russell has told police a man with orange hair and a bald spot, aided by a woman, forced her into a car. She later woke up in the back of a semi-truck.
Russell told police she was forced to take her clothes off, and she thought her captors took pictures. She said the woman who took her captive played with her hair and fed her cheese crackers.
She said she eventually escaped, ran through some woods and made it to her house.
She added she was ultimately able to escape and ran through some woods before she was able to find her way and walk back home.
Derzis said internet searches Russell made the day she disappeared included, “Do you have to pay for an Amber Alert,” “How to take money from a register without being caught,” “Birmingham bus station,” “Taken (movie about abduction),” and “maximum age for an Amber Alert.”
“There are many questions left to be answered, but only Carlee can answer those questions,” Derzis said. “I do think it’s highly unusual for the day someone gets kidnapped, several hours before that, they’re googling the movie Taken, about an abduction, I find that very strange.”
The Post noted that just minutes before calling 911 she tweeted, “Yeah I want a family now.
That tweet came after ones that said, “Today was a GREAT day God be looking out I’m telling you!!” and “someone to tell you ‘I love you’ and don’t got a reason.”
Eric Guster, a Birmingham attorney, said so far police are allowing the public to read between the lines, according to WVTM-TV.
“She says she was kidnaped, and a kidnapping didn’t happen. (They say) our citizens are safe. There’s not a kidnapper out there. So, they use every other synonym for lie except saying she lied,” Guster said.
Guster said three possible crimes Russell could face include theft, lying to authorities and filing a false police report, and that he was surprised she was not already charged.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.