Boyfriend of found nursing student says she was abducted after being ‘lured’ by toddler walking on Interstate

Stock Image. (Photo by Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
6:22 PM – Sunday, July 16, 2023  

Update: July 20, 2023 (1:43pm)- It has now been reported that police believe Carlethia ‘Carlee’ Nichole Russell most likely lied about the kidnapping and also lied to her boyfriend. He has since deleted all of their couple pictures on social media. Read the most recent report here.


The boyfriend of an Alabama nursing student who went missing after stopping to assist what she thought was a lost child walking on the side of a highway claims she was kidnapped.

25-year-old Carlethia ‘Carlee’ Nichole Russell was discovered alive on Saturday night when she walked to her parents’ house after a two-day, multi-state search.

Carlee’s boyfriend, Thomar Latrell Simmons, is now claiming that she was abducted and that she was “fighting for her life for 48 hours” after disappearing off the Alabama Interstate 459 highway on Thursday.

According to the initial report, she was on the phone with her brother’s girlfriend when she pulled over at night. Over the phone, the nursing student informed her that she was getting out of the car to check on the wandering toddler.

Her brother’s girlfriend then suddenly lost communication with Russell after hearing an abrupt scream.

On Sunday afternoon, he maintained that his girlfriend is not “physically or emotionally healthy” enough to speak about her alleged kidnapper’s whereabouts.

Simmons, who posted heartfelt photographs of the pair together, said he was unjustly suspected of being complicit in her abduction but that he still “kept his faith” and maintained the frantic hunt for his lover.

The boyfriend, who had recently traveled to New York City with Carlee, revealed his “nonstop” search for her and stated that he would not give up.

Not “until I saw her face again,” he asserted.

Her car, which was still running, was discovered by the side of a highway on Thursday, along with her phone and hair (wig).

“I don’t even know how to start off this post but to only say thank you to my Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ, for saving my girlfriend’s life!” Simmons posted online. “I just want to thank all of my family, friends, former teammates, and church members who called or texted me just to let me know that they’re praying & here for me; you guys don’t know how much that meant to me!”

Surfacing photographs also showed the number of cops and members of the public who assisted in the hunt for the nursing student following her horrific abduction.

The Hoover Police Department stated on Sunday night in an amended statement that she “returned home on foot” and has since been released from the hospital.

They also stated that the child she saw walking on the interstate was a male toddler wearing a diaper.

“Detectives responded to the residence and to UAB to take an initial statement from Carlee. The details of that statement are a part of the ongoing investigation, which is expected to continue over the next few days,” local officials said.

“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,” they continued.

According to WVMT-TV, Carlee’s parents, Talitha and Carolos Russell, believe that the child was used as “bait” to pull Russell from her car on Thursday night.

They also pledged to “scour the earth” to find her. She reportedly looked to be in complete shock when the traumatized woman arrived back at their house on foot late on Saturday night.

“We have looked at the video. It’s not the greatest. It proves that Carlee’s car was there, and we know that when the officers responded after the 911 call that she was not,” said Hoover police Chief Nick Derzis.

Many feared that the child she saw was also a kidnapping victim, however, there had been no other reports of a missing child in Hoover. One witness claimed to have seen a gray vehicle and a man standing outside Carlee’s car, but police stated they had no additional information regarding the toddler.

(Photo via: Instagram @tee_sims28)

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