Carlee Russell made a series of suspicious internet searches in the days before she claimed she was abducted, Alabama authorities revealed at a press conference Wednesday.
Forensic analysis of Ms Russell’s mobile phone, work and home computer found she had looked up information about the film BuiltAmber Alerts, booking a bus ticket from Birmingham to Nashville and “how to get money out of a program without getting caught”, Hoover Police Department Major Nicholas Derzis told reporters.
The searches revealed the 25-year-old’s precocious mind who claimed she was abducted after seeing a toddler walking on the side of Interstate 459 on July 13, Mr. Derzis said.
Police were unable to verify Ms Russell’s allegations, and she has since refused to be interviewed, he said.
According to authorities, Ms Russell left her work at Woodhouse Spa in the luxury Summit shopping center in Birmingham at around 8.20pm on July 13.
She called 911 at 9:34pm that night to report seeing a toddler wandering on the side of Interstate 459.
When police arrived, they found her red Mercedes still running and her belongings, including a wig, phone, Apple Watch and wallet, but no sign of her or the child.
An analysis of Ms. Russell’s phone found that she drove for 600 yards, or six football fields, when she made the 911 call claiming she was watching a toddler, Mr. Derzis said.
Miss Russell turned up on foot at her parents’ home in Hoover 49 hours later, and claimed she had been abducted and barely survived.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Mr Derzis revealed Ms Russell was seen taking items from Woodhouse Spa before leaving work.
Detectives briefly interviewed Ms Russell at the hospital, where she claimed to have abducted a man with orange hair and a bald spot who “came out of the trees”.
She claimed the man picked her up and put her in a car, and the next thing she remembered she was in an 18-wheel semi trailer, Mr Derzis said.
Ms Russell told police she heard a woman and a child in the semi, but did not see them.
She claimed she escaped from the trailer, before being recaptured and taken to a house, where her alleged captors forced her to strip and pose for photographs.
She told detectives that she was put in a car, and that she was able to escape and flee in the woods and came out near her home.
Detectives noted that she had a minor injury to her lip, and a torn shirt. They also found $107 in cash which had been placed in their correct socks.
“Out of respect for Carlee and her family, the detectives did not press for more information in this interview, and made plans to speak with her in detail after she had given her time to rest,” Mr. Derzis said.
The Secret Service analyzed her phone and computers, and found Internet searches that were “very relevant to this case,” Mr. Derzis said.
On July 11, Miss Russell searched: “Do you have to pay for an amber alert or a search”.
On the day of her alleged kidnapping, she searched for “how to withdraw money from a program without getting caught”. She also searched for a one-way bus ticket from Birmingham to Nashville leaving that day, Mr. Derzis said.
She searched too Builta 2008 kidnapping thriller starring Liam Neeson.
“There have been other searches on Carlee’s phone that appear to shed light on her state of mind, but for her privacy we will not be releasing the contents of those searches at this time,” the police chief said.
“We asked to interview Carlee a second time, but we were not granted that request. As you can see there are many questions left to be answered, but only Carlee can provide those answers.
“We can say that we have not been able to verify most of Carlee’s initial statement made to investigators, and we have no reason to believe that there is a threat to public safety.”