Carlee Russell’s boyfriend is asking for people to stop harassing her online as more and more people, including those in her hometown, suspect that her kidnapping claims are a hoax because she left her wig behind.
“The only thing I can say is, I want everyone to stop bullying her. I know what it seems like what she did. Just stop bullying on social media,” Thomar Latrell Simmons told The Post. “Think about her mental health. She doesn’t deserve that. She doesn’t. Nobody deserves to be cyberbullied.”
Russell, a 25-year-old nursing student, vanished on July 13 after she reported to 911 that she had seen a child dressed in a T-shirt and diaper walking barefoot along busy Interstate 459 in Hoover, Alabama as she drove home from her job in Birmingham.
She promised police she would remain along the side of the highway until they arrived, but when they got there they found her red Mercedes-Benz with her cellphone and wig left inside but couldn’t find Russell or a small child.
She suddenly reappeared at her home two days later, claiming she had been abducted and held captive, but police say her account of what happened is not lining up and she has refused additional interviews.
The wig has dominated the conversation surrounding Russell’s disappearance — online and off — and is a key element of the story that shifted public perception, particularly among the black community, even before the police released her browser history and cell phone records.
Several hair stylists, wig experts and salon patrons in Russell’s hometown, all of whom are black, told The Post that the wig immediately triggered suspicions that something seemed off, even before Russell reappeared.
She would have certainly worn the wig at work, and it’s unimaginable that she would have taken it off in the car — It would be like someone taking their underwear, they said.
The stylists said the wig appeared to be an expensive, front-lace wig that looked like a “613” color — a premium shade of platinum blonde. It is custom fitted and takes 10-15 minutes to remove, as it is actually glued to the scalp in some places. Custom wigs can cost as much as $800 — $200 at the bare minimum, they said.
“That was when the majority of Birmingham was like, ‘She’s lying.’ That’s when it was split down the middle where there was those that believed her and those that thought she was lying. It was the wig,” hair stylist Kyra Joyner, 23, from Hoover, told The Post.
“First of all, your wig is going to be secure. Second, if somebody’s taking you, they’re going to try to cause the least attention they can. If people see a wig on the side of the road— People call the police when they see mannequin heads hanging out the side of our cars,” she said.
Andrea Townsend, a salon patron from Helena, said it’s unthinkable that a black woman would ever leave her wig behind in her car.
“When it happened we were in shock. But once we saw the wig, just to know that wig was left behind— we don’t do that. We don’t do that. People were talking about it,” she said.
“My husband and I were talking about it. He’s a police officer. He immediately thought something doesn’t sound right,” she added.
Martha Harton, a nurse from Fayette, told The Post that all black women immediately knew Russell was lying — and it’s because of the wig.
“We all knew,” she said.
“A black woman’s hair is her glory. There are three things a black woman has that you don’t mess with: Her kids, her money, and her hair. That’s what gave her away.”