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Carlee Russell

Source: Carlee Russell / facebook

We don’t play about listening to Black women. So, as the Carlee Russell case continues to dominate headlines and social media news feeds, let’s talk about it.

Carlee Russell is a 25-year-old Alabama woman whose story took over news sites over the past week. Carlee was first reported missing on July 13. Her alleged disappearance struck the hearts of many as her pictures went viral on Groupmes, Facebook groups, social news outlets, and the like.

Carlee reportedly called 911 before going missing. She called to inform authorities that a toddler was walking down the highway alone. First responders traveled to the road location but did not find Carlee. Instead, they identified her car and personal belongings, including a phone, purse, and wig.

About 48 hours after being reported missing, Carlee returned home on July 16 unharmed. Social media and headlines again perked up, supporting her safe return.

Carlee’s Account to Authorities

According to Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis – who held a press conference on July 19 regarding the case – Carlee told detectives that she had been kidnapped and held by two people. The nursing student also stated that she was blindfolded and told to strip naked while captive.

She explained details of her initial male captor and then described a female voice and the sound of a baby crying. Carlee reported being held overnight. She reportedly was fed cheese crackers, and the female captor played with her hair.

After being forced into a car, Carlee reportedly told police she was able to get free. The Auburn University grad then described running until locating her home. After her return, Carlee’s boyfriend, Thomar Simmons, released a statement confirming her abduction.

Hoover Police Continue to Investigate

Hoover Police have continued to investigate Carlee’s disappearance. Their initial findings – which do not include recent interviews with Carlee – have caused buzz and a national stir.

The July 19 press conference revealed much about Carlee’s habits before her reported disappearance. Chief Derzis said their investigation found that Carlee searched for Amber Alerts and the movie “Taken” on her phone. Police also reportedly discovered Carlee searched for bus tickets in the hours before she went missing.

During the press event, police also doubted parts of Carlee’s story. They publicly questioned the possibility of a child being missing, Carlee’s motives, and the overall timeline.

“We’ve been unable to verify most of Carlee’s initial statement made to investigators, and we have no reason to believe that there is a threat to the public safety related to this particular case,” said Chief Derzis.

What’s Next?

While the case – and updated police findings – are troubling, Carlee’s story has serious implications.

According to reports and studies, despite making up only 13 percent of the female population in the U.S., studies have shown that Black women account for 35 percent of the country’s missing women. Nearly 100,000 women of color went missing in 2020 alone.

Black women should be listened to, found, and protected. Period. Carlee Russell has yet to really tell her side of the story. She deserves that right.


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Carlee Russell Is Home Safe. But What Happened?  was originally published on