Carlee Russell, the 25-year-old Alabama woman whose disappearance made national headlines after she called 911 to report a child walking along the highway, admitted the entire incident was a hoax, authorities said in a press conference.
While the announcement led many social media users to condemn and criticize Russell for taking attention away from real cases, a woman who has dedicated her life to finding missing persons is urging the public to remain focused on the bigger picture — bringing our loved ones home.
“While Carlee’s revelation is disheartening, we will not be dismayed,” said Natalie Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation. “There are far too many missing people of color who actually need our help and are counting on us to help bring them home.”
Nearly 40% of missing persons in the United States are Black, despite making up only 13% of the country’s population. The Black and Missing Foundation is a nonprofit organization that aims to bring awareness to missing people of color.
Wilson, a public relations professional, co-founded the organization in 2008 alongside former law enforcement officer Derrica Wilson. The pair use their combined experience in law enforcement and media relations to combat the persistent lack of attention given to missing persons of color. The sisters-in-law were also highlighted in the four-part HBO series “Black and Missing.”