In an indication of the continued fallout over the controversial disappearance of a young Black woman in Alabama, her boyfriend has taken steps to update his social media presence, which apparently includes removing any trace of his public support for her.
The developments came in the hours after local law enforcement in the city of Hoover suggested during a press conference on Wednesday that Carlee Russell, 25, may have staged her own disappearance that also alleged she was kidnapped for 48 hours last weekend.
At some point following the press conference, Thomar Latrell Simmons deleted a post on his Instagram that had previously gone viral in part because of his support for her, the way he reinforced her claim that she was kidnapped and how he described her condition as being physically dire.
As of Thursday morning, Simmons’ Instagram page only featured photos of himself and no longer included the social post in which he claimed Russell “was literally fighting for her life for 48 hours.” The post also suggested she was not “physically & mentally stable” as a result of her ordeal with “her kidnapper.”
Anyone who clicks on a link to the now-deleted post is greeted with the following message: “Sorry, this page isn’t available. The link you followed may be broken, or the page may have been removed. Go back to Instagram.”
Simmons lent similar treatment to his Facebook page.
Russell first gained attention when she called 911 to report an unaccompanied toddler on the side of a major highway late at night last Thursday, July 13. Her family later contacted 911 to suggest she had been abducted while checking on the toddler, sparking a massive statewide manhunt and prompting national media coverage until she reappeared at her parents’ home late Sunday night.
Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis told reporters on Wednesday that Russell claimed she was kidnapped by a white man with orange hair, forced over a fence and into an 18-wheeler truck, where she was blindfolded but not bound and could hear the sounds of a baby and a woman’s voice. Derzis said Russell also told police that she was able to flee before being captured again. No physical or sexual contact was alleged, Derzis said. Russell also told the police that on Sunday, she was placed into another vehicle from which she successfully escaped by running through the woods until she emerged near her parents’ home.
When examining the search history of Russell’s phone, Derzis said a wealth of information was uncovered, including internet searches for terms that included “do you have to pay for an amber alert” and “how to take money from a register without being caught.”
Other searches were made for a one-way bus ticket from Birmingham to Nashville, Tennessee, and about the movie Taken, a blockbuster hit in which a teenager is kidnapped.
Notably, Derzis suggested Russell stole a bathrobe and other items belonging to her employer in the hours before she was reported missing. Russell also picked up food she ordered from a Greek restaurant, bought snacks from a Target store and stayed in the parking lot there until she drove to the highway where she reported the unaccompanied toddler, Derzis said.
However, when officers arrived at the side of Interstate 459 South, they only saw Russell’s car idling with one door open and her phone, watch and purse still inside. While the Greek food was also still there, the snacks and the bathrobe were not, Derzis said.
“We’ve been unable to verify most of Carlee’s initial story given to investigators, we do not believe there is a threat to public safety,” Derzis told reporters.
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