Woman who disappeared after stopping to help a toddler says she was kidnapped and fought for her life

Carlethia “Carlee” Nichole Russell, 25, returned home safe on Saturday night after a two-day search that was initiated when she called for help as she stopped to assist a toddler on the I-459 highway.

Her boyfriend, Thomar Latrell Simmons, shared that Russell had been kidnapped and had spent the 48 hours “fighting for her life”. He also thanked all those who had helped to search for her and expressed his gratefulness for the social media attention the case had received.

Russell’s parents had alleged that the young child, she had tried to help, was used as “bait” to abduct her. Simmons said he was glad to see her face again and appreciated all the support he had received from family, friends, former teammates and church members.

It is still unclear what happened to Russell in those two days. The nursing student was taken to a hospital for evaluation after she arrived home in a state of shock. Police said they would wait until she had recovered before interviewing her.

They had found her vehicle and some of her belongings at the location where she had reported about the toddler around 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, but not her or the child.