The Emotional Backlash of the Carlee Russell Story

The Emotional Backlash of the Carlee Russell Story

Unless you live under a rock, you most definitely know the story of Carlee Russell. For context I will give you the gist of the story, or what we the public know. On July 13th Carlee Russell was headed home from work on I-459; according to reports she saw a child walking along the interstate. She called 911, and then a relative. While waiting on emergency responders, Carlee was on the phone with her relative. During that time a struggle ensued, and the call went silent. When emergency responders arrived, Carlee was gone. Vanished. Her car was found at the scene, along with her phone, purse, and wig. Two days later, in the wee hours, Carlee returned home. Per her family and reports, she was in shock.

In the days following her return, there has been a lot of speculation as to whether Carlee was actually missing or if this was a fabricated story. The police gave details from Carlee’s interrogation where she shared that she was kidnapped by a man who appeared out of the woods next to the highway. Per Russell, the man made her go over a fence and forced her into a car. She recalls being in the trailer of an 18-wheeler, where she heard a male and female voice as well as a baby crying. She said that she was held captive and fed snacks. She was made to take her clothes off and she thinks her captors took nude pictures of her. The police have now released Carlee’s search history the morning of her disappearance which includes information on Amber Alerts, a nearby bus station, how to steal money form a cash register and the movie “Taken.” From the court of public opinion, it appears that this was all fabricated by Carlee Russell. Only time will tell if it is or if it is not. But there is one thing for sure, this story is deeply disturbing on so many levels and we the public have gone through many emotions. I for one most certainly have.


At first, I found it really disturbing that someone would use a child to lure a victim. If I was traveling down the highway and saw a child alone on the highway, I would stop in an instant. Who wouldn’t? But sadly, now I would have to give it a second thought. According to the police, they do not believe that a child was involved in the disappearance. But this now gives the crazies in the world a new tactic to lure potential victims. And if by chance there is a lost child wandering alone, it could possibly end badly because now most will have to think hard about helping. The sad reality is we live in a crazy sin-sick world and we must consider our own safety before helping others.


I must admit that I was relieved and impressed that Carlee’s story got so much attention. Let’s be honest, missing Black women do not get the same media coverage that our counterparts get. Sure, we get local coverage and black media coverage. But very rarely do we get national coverage. So, when I saw Carlee’s face on the social media pages of the big outlets and was easily able to Google for updates, I was happy and prayed for a safe return. I was hopeful that this would bring more attention to missing women of color.


The Sunday after her disappearance, Carlee returned home. It sparked many questions. I will be honest; I did not expect her to be found alive. But I do know the God that we serve, so nothing is impossible. I was very happy to know that she was safe. As the day went on, I started seeing many people speculate that something was off. Again, I did have questions, but I did not want to believe that someone could make something like this up. As time went on, the court of TikTok had all but convicted her. The jokes, reels, and memes were damning.


It is heartbreaking to think that a person could and would fabricate such an elaborate story and put their family in agony. But again, based on the world we live in, should I be surprised? Maybe I am the naïve one in this situation. It is speculated that Carlee possibly had a mental break or has mental health issues. It is also speculated that this rouse was to seek revenge on her cheating boyfriend. No matter the reason, this young lady is now traumatized, as is her friends and family. Whether she was indeed abducted or made this story up, she now must deal with the fall out and media attention, which can easily cause mental anguish.


Frustrated. Upset. Disappointed. This is where I am now. My main point of frustration is that what appears to be a selfish act will now affect so many others. As I said, Black women rarely get national media coverage when they go missing, so I wonder what will happen the next time a Black woman goes missing. Will she get national coverage and the resources that she deserves? Will it be automatically assumed that it is a hoax? Never mind the fact that white women stage disappearances all the time. But unfortunately, Carlee and other women of color do not have that luxury.

Details of Carlee Russell’s disappearance are still forthcoming. The one thing we can all agree on is no matter what happened this poor woman has gone through a lot and will need lots of prayer, therapy, and support to heal. As for the public, I am sure there will be a new story to jump on in a few days. I still can’t help but wonder what will happen the next time someone goes missing; will she get the attention that she deserves?  What will happen to all the missing women out there that are not getting national coverage? It’s my prayer that we all get the attention and coverage we deserve. Moreover, it is my prayer that no one goes missing.

Torilyn Williams
Torilyn Williams is a Louisiana native, born and raised in New Orleans. She moved to Lafayette to attend UL Lafayette, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s in Applied Life Sciences. Tori is blessed to be the wife of her ambitious and hardworking husband, Damian. The devoted mom of Tatum Marie (6) and Aubrey Malia (5) and bonus mom to Damian Jr. (20). Tori has been working in the banking industry for over fifteen years. She is a member of Junior League Lafayette. Tori has a heart for volunteerism, she loves to give back to the community and mentor the youth. Tori is a die-hard New Orleans Saints fan. She is also a self-proclaimed foodie that loves to chronicle her food adventures on Instagram (@Dashofwilliams). Outside of work you can find Tori spending time with family and friends, traveling, trying new recipes, and working out. Tori is always down for a good meal with family or a shopping trip!


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