Carlee Russell conducted a series of suspicious Internet searches in the days leading up to her allegations of being kidnapped, Alabama authorities said at a news conference on Wednesday.
A forensic analysis of Ms. Russell’s cell phone, work and home computers revealed that she was looking for information about the film out of stockAmber Alerts, booking a bus ticket from Birmingham to Nashville and “how to withdraw money from a register without getting caught,” Nicholas Derzis of the Hoover Police Department told reporters.
The searches shed light on the 25-year-old’s mindset before she claimed she was abducted after she saw a toddler walking down the side of the road on Interstate 459 on July 13, Mr Derzis said.
Police have been unable to verify Ms Russell’s claims and she has since declined to be interviewed, he added.
According to authorities, Ms Russell left work at the Woodhouse Spa at the Summit luxury shopping center in Birmingham at around 8.20pm on July 13.
She called 911 at 9:34 p.m. that evening and reported seeing an infant wandering off the side of Interstate 459.
When officers arrived, they found her red Mercedes still running and her belongings, including a wig, phone, Apple Watch and purse, but no sign of her or the toddler.
An analysis of Ms Russell’s phone showed she drove 600 yards, or six football fields, while calling 911 saying she was watching an infant, Mr Derzis said.
Ms Russell turned up on foot at her parents’ home in Hoover 49 hours later, claiming she had been kidnapped and barely survived.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Mr Derzis revealed that Ms Russell was seen taking items from the Woodhouse Spa before leaving work.
Investigators conducted a brief interview with Ms Russell at the hospital, where she claimed she was abducted by a man with orange hair and a bald spot “who came out of the trees”.
She claimed the man picked her up and forced her into a car, and the next thing she remembered she was in the trailer of an 18-wheel articulated lorry, Mr Derzis said.
Ms Russell told police she heard a woman and a baby in the articulated lorry but did not see them.
She claimed to have fled the trailer before being recaptured and taken to a home, where her alleged captors forced her to strip and pose for photographs.
She told investigators that she was put in a car, escaped and fled into the woods and came out near her home.
Investigators found that she had a minor laceration on her lip and a torn shirt. They also found $107 worth of cash lodged in her right sock.
“Out of respect for Carlee and her family, investigators did not press for additional information in this interview and planned to speak with her at length after giving 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, Ms Russell asked, “Do you have to pay for the amber alert or the search?”
On the day of her alleged kidnapping, she was looking for ways “to get money out of a till without getting caught.” She was also looking for a one-way bus ticket from Birmingham to Nashville, which departed that day, Mr Derzis said.
She also searched out of stocka 2008 kidnapping thriller starring Liam Neeson.
“There have been other searches of Carlee’s phone which appear to shed light on her thinking, but out of respect 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 that request was not granted. As you can see, there are still many questions to be answered, but only Carlee can provide those answers.
“What we can say is that we have not been able to verify most of Carlee’s initial statements to investigators and we have no reason to believe there was a threat to public safety.”