Why Alissa Turney needs our help:
Hello, my name is Erin Reed, and today I want to tell you about a girl who has been on missing persons flyers longer than she was here with her family and friends. I live in the eastern valley of Arizona. I have lived here for five years, and it wasn’t until about two months ago that I first heard the name “Alissa Turney.” It was not on the local news like you would expect; it was on the Crime Junkie podcast. My home is just minutes from Paradise Valley High School and a few miles from the bustling city of Phoenix, Arizona. We are also just moments away from a vast and unmanned desert. It is so very rare that locals hear the name “Alissa Turney” or her story, but I refuse to let either be forgotten.
Alissa was, by all accounts, a very sweet and kind girl with a feisty side. In May of 2001, Alissa was seventeen and getting close to the time of her independence and creating her own life outside of the terrors that were all too real in her own home. Everyone that speaks of Alissa has nothing but nice things to say about this creative, strong-willed girl. Everyone speaks of her love for her siblings, especially for Sarah, her little sister, who is four years her junior. Alissa and Sarah argued like any siblings with a four year age gap would, but had a close relationship.
From the outside, it looked as though Michael Turney, once a Phoenix sheriff’s department deputy, was struggling in raising these two girls on his own after Sarah and Alissa’s mother, Barbara, was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in 1993. When Michael Turney and Barbara Farner met, she was thirty and he was forty. Barbara already had Alissa and an older son, John, from previous relationships. Michael had three older boys, Rhett, James, and Michael Turney Jr. After getting married, they decided to have Sarah to blend the family. Michael says in an interview with 20/20, that they never allowed the prefix “step” in their home. Mike says he always saw Alissa and John as his. He claims that all of the kids were treated the same. As we see now, that is simply not true.
The relationship between Alissa and her step-father was very tumultuous and toxic from the beginning. Barbara herself felt that something was off between Mike and his step-daughter, even when Alissa was very little. Notably, Barbara took a young Alissa and Sarah to be evaluated by a doctor for signs of sexual abuse. After Barbara’s death, Michael insisted on inserting himself into every single aspect of Alissa’s life and maintaining complete control over her. His control included who she was allowed to see and talk to. His behavior far surpassed the concerned father’s role. At times, it appeared as if Mike was more of a jealous lover than a father. There are hundreds of tapes with Alissa on them that date all the way back to the 1980s. Mike claimed to enjoy documenting as much as he could of his family; he was always behind the camera watching. Mike had security cameras continually surveilling around the outside of the house. He claimed that he was only trying to keep his family safe.
Michael also had a passive recording system on his home phones that existed even before he met Barbara. Alissa and Sarah were aware of the passive audio recording system and outside cameras. A later discovery would reveal there was another camera hidden in the vent that pointed directly at a couch. Later they would find recordings of Alissa making out with boys on this couch. Michael used these recordings of Alissa as “proof” that she was “boy-crazy” and “promiscuous”. He often made statements such as: “she’s out of control”, “she makes poor decisions”, or “she’s stupid”, in hopes of demeaning her character and trying to paint her as an unpredictable, rebellious teen.
Years later, a search of the Turney home revealed a much darker truth: Michael had made Alissa sign disturbing, notarized documents stating that he was not molesting her. Michael called them “contracts”, and he commented that they were simply used to help Alissa because she was “out of control.” There are reports made by Michael to Child Protective Services stating that, if Alissa called to report him for molesting her, it was only because she wanted a car.
Alissa, for many years, had desperately tried to get help for the abuse and molestation that was happening to her. She reportedly told many people, including teachers, family, and friends, yet no one helped her. It just kept getting swept back under the rug. Despite all of this, everyone that loved her and was lucky enough to interact with this amazing girl said that she was so sweet and full of life. Alissa was always compassionate, bubbly, and happy despite the things that were happening to her under his roof.
At seventeen, Alissa worked at Jack in the Box, had a steady boyfriend, many friends, and a savings account containing $1,800. She had planned to possibly go stay the summer in California with her Aunt Lynette, her late mother’s sister. Alissa had a few close friends, despite Michael’s attempts to keep her isolated and controlled. Michael could often be found in the parking lot of the Jack in the Box that Alissa worked at, making sure he knew where she was all the time. Michael states this is because Alissa would often miss her shifts and run off with boys. This was the picture he liked to paint of Alissa to anyone that would listen, even when teachers and employers pointed to a different picture of a teen with average grades and a responsible, dedicated work ethic. No one else ever claimed she had an issue with showing up for classes or work shifts.
Michael liked to describe Alissa to outsiders as a troubled child with a learning disability that was promiscuous and out of control. When a nine-year-old Alissa told her third-grade teacher, Diane Boardman, that she was “having sex with her dad”, Michael claimed she was lying and the accusation was just dropped. Interestingly, Michael was in a relationship with Diane Boardman, who was married to another man at the time.
Now as an adult, Sarah states that looking back, Alissa was nothing but a normal teenage girl. In fact, Alissa was the one who got in far less trouble than her younger sister did in her teenage years. Sarah was free to come and go as she pleased without any scrutiny or question from Michael. It was as if Michael didn’t care what Sarah was doing or where she was, but was obsessively possessive over Alissa, because he says she made poor decisions and needed that kind of constant supervision for her own well-being. Mike constantly degraded Alissa calling her “stupid,” a “moron,” even a “bitch,” telling her she couldn’t do anything on her own. Through this, he was not only discrediting Alissa’s behavior, but
degrading her to make Alissa question herself and her abilities. Sarah remembers them fighting a lot. It was as if there were bits of normality, if you will, between the madness.
It is so very clear that this was an unhealthy relationship between Mike and Alissa. It seemed as Alissa got older and braver, the harder Mike pushed to not only discredit her, but to push everyone else away from her and keep her to himself. It’s my personal opinion and observation from the beginning of this case that Mike picked Barbara because of Alissa and the fact that her older brother wouldn’t be around much longer. I think he met Barbara and being a manipulative predator, intentionally picked Barbara so he could not only control Barbara, but groom Alissa as she grew older. Mike had three boys, but they were out of the house shortly after Barb and Mike married and were long gone by the time Sarah was little. It was like Sarah and Alissa were the only two, because while they had four other siblings, they didn’t all grow up in the same house together.
After Barbara’s passing, it really was just Mike and the girls. Mike always says the day Barbara died broke him and changed him forever. There’s a very interesting side story on suspicions regarding Barb’s passing and life insurance money, but that’s for another time. I think he was already grooming Alissa and had already been molesting her at this point, and after Barbara passed, he just became even more obsessed with Alissa, who, to no surprise, looked like her mother.
Sarah herself has questioned her father face-to-face about how he was so different with her than with Alissa. Sarah reminded him that she was there too and Alissa wasn’t doing anything any other teenager at the time wasn’t doing. In Mike’s response, when he says Alissa’s name, it is filled with such vile hatred. It is not a loving father’s tone for sure. Sarah has had to really look at her childhood and face the real questions of “why did my father treat us so differently”? “Why was he so obsessed with her and where she was and what she was doing?” Sarah, on the other hand, who was younger, was free to come and go with pretty much anyone at any given time. I think the thing that most often gets looked over in this case is the propelling effect that the loss of their mother so young in their lives had on both girls. It forever cemented Alissa and Sarah’s reliance on Mike and Mike used that to take advantage of both of these little girls. Children need a guiding force to love and protect them, and the day Barbara died those girls lost that and they clung to the only parent they had left.
For Alissa, she really lost both of her parents that day. Mike chased off Alissa’s biological father a few years before Barbara passed and made it difficult for Barbara’s side of the family to stay close to the girls, especially Alissa. Alissa’s dad, Stephen Strahm, was involved in the beginning of her life, but when Barb decided to leave him for Mike, Alissa’s father was quickly cut off. He now says he was afraid to see Alissa because of Mike’s threats. Mike was an ex-police officer and had been in the military. Alissa’s father listened to the threats and walked out of Alissa’s life, as Mike told him to. Therefore, Mike was left alone with these young girls at a very young age, while he was retired on disability, and did not even have a job to keep him in check. Mike never brought any woman home after the teacher he dated who Alissa tried to confide in. After this incident, he made sure to not even allow a possible significant other in his home, because he couldn’t risk the girls bonding with her and the dirty secrets of his home to come out.
Now that you have a tiny bit of the background, allow me to bring you to May 17, 2001. It’s the last day of school before summer break for Alissa and Sarah Turney. Sarah’s class went to a water park for a last-day-of-school celebration. Alissa went to her classes at Paradise Valley High. The exact time is unknown, but somewhere around 10:30 am to 11:00 am, Michael came to the school to check Alissa out early and take her to lunch. According to Alissa’s boyfriend, Jon, Alissa stuck her head in his shop class before she left and told him she was leaving and that she would see him that night. From this point forward, we can only take a shot at the theory of what may have happened in the following hours.
Michael Turney’s whereabouts that day are unaccounted for until he picked Sarah up from a friend’s house around dusk. Dusk in Phoenix is anywhere from 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm in May. However, Sarah, being only twelve at the time, isn’t positive of the pick-up time and thinks it couldn’t have been later than 5:00 pm. Mike was visibly agitated with Alissa when he picked Sarah up. Mike tossed his cellphone to Sarah and told her to try calling her sister, because he couldn’t get her to pick up. He claims that he had been trying to call Alissa for a while now, and she wouldn’t answer and he was worried. He explains that he and Alissa had a fight around lunch and he left her at the house to cool off. Mike continued home with Sarah, and when they entered the house, Sarah went to Alissa’s room to find the contents of her backpack dumped out on the floor. The backpack was gone. She found a note from Alissa, in her handwriting, that read: “Dad and Sarah, when you dropped me off at school today, I decided that I really am going to California. Sarah, you said you didn’t want me around look you got it. I’m gone. That’s why I saved my money. Dad, I took $300 from you. Alissa.”
Mike called some of Alissa’s friends to ask if she was with them, then at around 11:00 pm, he called the Phoenix Police Department. Michael, a retired cop, calmly reported his step-daughter as a runaway. Mike explained she had left a note, stolen some cash and headed to California, because she has family out there. Mike said he knew where she was but still needed to report it.
An officer at the Phoenix Police Department took that report, putting Alissa in the system as a runaway. That officer took Mike’s word for what happened that day, and because she had left the note, she was not considered a missing person. There was no follow up or investigation. No officer was sent to the home that night to take a statement or collect evidence. A young girl vanished from her home in the middle of the day, and no one followed up on it.
Approximately a week after Alissa was reported as a runaway, the Turney family phone rings at 5:00 am. Mike said it startled him out of his sleep, and he raced to answer it. He claimed Alissa was on the other end, cursing, mumbling, and telling him to leave her alone before hanging up. Mike rushed out of bed and raced to the corner gas station in hopes she was calling from the nearest pay phone. He returned home and said he did not dial *67 to call back because he did not think it would work on long distance calls. This is one of the many holes in Michael Turney’s story. If he thought she called from a local payphone, why did he not make an attempt to call the number back because it was long distance?
Mike called the police station that morning to update them on the runaway report. He told the officer that he spoke to Alissa and he is sure that she is in California. Mike repeats his story, stating that Alissa called, cursed at him, and told him to leave her alone before hanging up on him. He asked the police to retrieve the phone records but was told they cannot do that. Mike resorted to suing the phone company and won the records of that call in this suit.
The call was placed from a payphone in Riverside, California, and it was twenty-nine seconds long. Mike presents this to the police as proof that she is in California. However, although there was proof of a call, there was no proof that this was Alissa. Mike states that in the following weeks he canvassed their neighborhood talking to all of the neighbors and Alissa”s friends. Interestingly, their next-door neighbors, when interviewed years later, didn’t know Alissa was gone. He reached out to family, frantically saying he knew something bad had happened to her. Mike also says that he then began traveling to and from California, putting up flyers and interviewing local hotels and hangouts in the Riverside area. Sarah remembers him being gone a lot during that time, but cannot be positive where he actually went or did on these trips.
The concerned father allegedly pounded the pavement and called the cops, demanding for their help in finding his daughter. Michael Turney was the misunderstood father that was fighting and looking for his daughter on his own, because the local police would not help no matter how much he begged.
This is the narrative Mike portrays to anyone who will listen to the story of his missing daughter. However, the police have a different point of view. The police claim to have never been called by Mike demanding help and answers in those first weeks after her disappearance. Mike did report the call he said he received from Alissa. He did request the phone records, and the police did tell him they could not obtain them for him and that he would need to do that himself. They really heard from Mike when he was awarded the phone records and shown that twenty-nine second call from Riverside. But that’s about it. Mike went back and forth to California, looking for his daughter that he claimed ran away because he was too hard on her. Sarah, her little sister, continued sleeping in her sister’s bed, wearing her sister’s clothes, and thinking that any day Alissa will show up and yell at her for doing so. She knew in her heart that her sister wouldn’t leave her.
Time passed, and no word was heard from Alissa. None of Alissa’s close friends heard from her in the days, weeks, or months following her disappearance. They now say that when they first heard she had run away, they just thought “good for her.” Alissa had confided in her close friends for years about what was happening when she went home at night. She told them that Mike had tried to touch her inappropriately, and she had to push him away. She told one friend that she had woken up choking one night, and he was on top of her. Alissa’s friends report that she had never really talked about running away. They all say Alissa wouldn’t leave Sarah alone in that house. Alissa was the only motherly figure Sarah had, and Alissa did watch over her like a fierce momma bear. They had a typical sister relationship, but Sarah looked up to Alissa. Alissa made sure Sarah had the things she needed, because Mike was neglectful when it came to Sarah. She was tough on Sarah, but it was all in love.
Alissa’s eighteenth birthday came and went with no word from her. This causes many to argue: “If she did run away to get away from Mike’s control, then why would she not contact friends and family when she turned eighteen?”
We know May 17, 2001, was her last day because she would be thirty-five today, and in all of those years, her social security number has never been linked to employment or marriage. It has not been used to gain a bank account or a car loan. Why would she never contact family and friends again? All
that knew her said she wouldn’t have left Sarah, no matter what. Alissa had stayed so long in that house and endured so much because she loved her sister and knew she needed to protect her. I think part of her wanted to be loved by the man that claimed to be her loving step-father, the man her mother trusted to leave her with. Mike was the only father she really knew and the only parent she had left.
Had Alissa left that summer to stay with her Aunt Lynette in California, Mike’s days were numbered before she would have been safe with an adult that would have listened to her and helped her. I think Mike was all too aware that Alissa would soon be an adult who could go anywhere she wanted. Alissa could get help for her and Sarah, and he was very afraid of what his life would be with Alissa out of his constant control.
Lynette states that Mike had called her a few weeks before Alissa had disappeared and asked her to take Alissa for the summer. Mike told Lynette that Alissa was out of control and he just couldn’t do it anymore. There had always been a rift between Barbara’s family and Alissa and Sarah, after Barbara passed. There were rumors amongst the family about Barbara’s death and talk of the family’s concern with Mike raising the girls. Barbara’s family state that Michael scared them and that he made it very difficult for them to see Alissa and Sarah. When Barbara was sick and her family was around, they found Michael’s behavior to be odd. After Barbara passed, Mike kept her family at a distance. So when Mike called to ask for help, he most likely assumed Lynette would say no, but she didn’t. When Lynette told Mike she would consider taking Alissa for the summer, Mike began to change his statements about needing her help.
I have a theory that Mike knew at that point that there really was no turning back. He had this little girl under his roof, who was easy to control. She was just an innocent child, and she looked at this man as her father. Mike was the person that was supposed to protect her, and be the parent her mother had chosen. Why would she know or think any differently? Once Alissa got older and had friends outside of the home, she saw her friends interact with their fathers, confirming her suspicions that something was off between her and her own. The older she became and the more outside exposure to healthy family dynamics she had, I think the more she tried to stand her ground. Mike could see all of this crumbling and his secrets coming out. Everyone was going to know Mike’s dirty secrets and it was going to change his life forever. He couldn’t easily portray the narrative of “out-of-control child” to the outside world anymore. He had to silence her. Lynette saying she would take her for the summer offset Mike’s paranoia, and he began planning. I think that day he formulated a plan, picked a place to bury her, found the note by rummaging through her things, and made her disappear. He thought silencing her would silence all the accusations of abuse and that his dark past would go to the grave with her.
Alissa’s safety, her bright future, and her freedom were on the horizon, but they never came. Instead, I believe this controlling man took her life, because he was quickly losing control of this brave girl and he couldn’t have all of the nasty, raw truth out there. All of the abuse and sexual allegations she had claimed for years would have a voice soon. She could stand up for herself. Asking for help would get her somewhere as an adult.
Fast forward to 2006. Alissa is still listed as a runaway, Sarah is an adult, and the case has gone nowhere. That is, until Thomas Albert Hymer says to a detective after his arrest in Georgia, “I am going to make you famous.” Hymer was found driving the car of a woman who had been stabbed and strangled in a hotel in Fort Lauderdale,Florida the night he was arrested. Sandra Goodman’s body was found tucked under the motel bed. Sandra was merely a travel companion that Hymer had picked up and was traveling with, until he grew tired of her. He never said why he killed her, but in the moment that he was to sit down and give a statement about Goodman, he told the detective taking his statement that he was a serial killer and his list of victims included at least twenty-one women.
He then showed a photo of Alissa that was printed in USA Today Magazine. He boasted of how he had met a girl named Alissa in Phoenix. He said she was a heroin addict and that they traveled together for some time before he killed her. Hymer stated that one night after a sexual encounter, he killed her in a hotel, dismembered her body, and disposed of her remains in a recycling plant. He went on to state that Alissa had unusual sexual desires and habits on top of being a heroin addict. Hymer wrote an official statement, detailing the encounter and murder of Alissa Turney, as well as where her remains were disposed of.
Hymer was able to pick Alissa out of a photo lineup and said she was the girl he had killed. Detectives in Florida reached out to the Phoenix police department to let them know they had this man claiming to have killed their missing girl. Detectives Somershoe and Andersen were assigned to her case. They set out to interrogate Thomas Hymer. They had to prove that he really knew Alissa. Through interviews that Somershoe and Andersen conducted with Alissa’s friends, family, and boyfriend, they quickly concluded that there was no way she could have been on heroin without anyone knowing. Her boyfriend at the time denied the claims of weird sexual behaviors and stated that the girl Thomas Hymer described just wasn’t her.
Hymer told Somershoe and Andersen he was sure Alissa was the girl he had killed and he agreed to take a polygraph. As expected, he failed. His story didn’t add up to be about the girl Somershoe and Anderson had come to know very well through her family and friends. While Hymer was wrong and sent the police on a wild goose chase, it finally forced the case to be opened and looked at again. That’s when after interviewing family and friends Somershoe and Andersen discovered that Michael may actually be a suspect in the murder of his step-daughter. It came to light that Alissa’s case was not just a runaway case and that something wasn’t right.
Nothing sat right with them when speaking with Michael, who said Alissa told him that she was going to break up with Jon that day and was scared of the aftermath, so she asked Mike to be there for protection. This is another example of Mike building the narrative and trying to steer the investigation the way he wants. Yet before leaving school that day, the very last thing Alissa did was pop her head into Jon’s class to say goodbye. That action does not line up with the story of her running away. If she truly sat down and planned to run away, like she wrote in the note, then why worry about breaking up with Jon? Why not just leave school that day without saying anything to him? Another thing that stands out is the question of why Alissa would even bother engaging in an argument with Michael about the summer and wanting more freedoms if she was just planning to run away that day anyway. Coming from Erin, the girl that made a career out of running away from home, let me tell you, you don’t argue over things you know you aren’t going to be there for. You might leave a note, but not one telling where you are going. A girl not wanting to be found would have taken more of her belongings and she would have needed help from a friend or family member to even make it through the night. This story that she just left with no belongings except for her backpack from school that day and disappeared on her own is so clearly fabricated.
Years later, it came out in interviews with friends that she had planned to attend a party that night with girlfriends and see Jon there. This doesn’t match Michael’s story of a girl that planned to run away to California after school and was avoiding her boyfriend because she wanted to leave him. Still to this day, Jon has never married, had kids, or really even had another relationship since Alissa. They had a few problems, yes, but that was what being in love as a teenager was like. He says they really talked about getting married one day and having kids. Alissa really was the love of his life. When you watch the video clips of her prom, you see small moments of real joy with Jon and it’s heartbreaking that they never knew what could have been.
It was not revealed to the family that Mike had picked Alissa up early that day until 20/20 on ABC did a special on Alissa. In the interviews for 20/20, Michael tells the story that on May 17, 2001, he picked Alissa up from school early and took her to lunch. At lunch, an argument over the summer began. He said she wanted more freedom, to go to more parties, and to go out with friends late. He said it wasn’t going to be that way, so a fight ensued, making Alissa angry. After they returned home from lunch, she stormed off to her room. He says the last he ever saw of Alissa was her blonde hair swinging behind her as she went down the hall.
So, as any logical person would ask, “there must be a tape of her coming home with Mike, right?” Mike had a recording system with inside and outside cameras and one hidden in the vent. The tapes from that
day should not only corroborate his story, but show investigators what she was wearing when she left, what she may have taken with her, her demeanor, if anyone was with her when she left, and which direction she went in. The video is essential to her last moments, and had she run away, could have saved her life. Michael casually states that he watched it, and nothing important stuck out to him, so he disposed of it. The call from California that he tried to use to prove that Alissa was still alive and in California, well, there’s no evidence of it either. His elaborate recording system just happened to be off that day, even though it was always running.
As Somershoe and Andersen began to work on the case of Alissa’s disappearance and ruled out Hymer, they quickly realized that Micheal Turney had something to do with his stepdaughter’s disappearance. The detectives started to (correctly) suspect that there was something much more sinister going on in the Turney home.
There is so much more dirty bullshit in this story. Excuse my language, but enough is enough. This girl deserves to come home; she deserves justice for what was done to her. The details go so deep. The cycle of abuse in the Turney family needs to stop. I have notes upon notes on this case, and I have spent every single moment of my free time on this case. This case needs attention. At its core, this is not just the story of an abused girl who was killed months before she got her chance to be free, to heal, and to fight her own battles; this is a story of a broken family so full of tragedy and corruption, that it runs in their veins.
In 2017, Michael Roy Turney had just gotten out of prison, but not for Alissa’s murder or disappearance, but because the Phoenix police found twenty-six homemade pipe bombs in his home. They casually stumbled upon these deadly weapons while searching the house for evidence in Alissa’s case in 2008.
The investigative team was so nervous about serving him the warrant. Knowing his paranoia and his personality, they were worried he would cause harm. He went out to check his mail one afternoon when the police approached him and detained him outside of the home. When they searched his body, he had two guns and seven fully loaded magazines on his person. Once inside the home, they found much more than they were prepared to find. They discovered disturbing videos of snuff pornography and contracts Alissa had signed, stating she was not being sexually abused by her step-father. They found tapes of phone calls with Michael speaking so poorly of Alissa before and after her disappearance. This was not the way a “loving” father speaks of a daughter, especially a missing daughter. There was such a massive collection of videos from the home surveillance system and recorded phone calls from the passive recording system, that in 2019, there are still hundreds of hours of unwatched and unheard content.
The biggest discovery besides the homemade explosives was the manifesto written by Michael, detailing his plan to blow up the local 640 electrical union. He states that he’s planning this attack on them as revenge for the union kidnapping and killing Alissa and burying her in Desert Center, California. He says that he worked for them in the 1970’s ,and that they have been trying to get back at him for filing a safety report for years. At one point Mike says he killed two union members to avenge Alissa’s death. One of the gentlemen he claimed to have killed in this altercation was a man who was deceased far before this incident occurred. Yet upon the search of Mike’s safe, they did come across a fake identification card with that gentleman’s name and social security number on it.
Nothing solid was found in the home to link Michael Turney to Alissa’s murder at the time. The house that was raided was not even the house the Turney’s were living in when Alissa went missing. Without a body, the case is going nowhere. That’s where this case sits, still. No new leads, no new ideas, no interviews, no news conferences, no assistance from the local police. I hear Sarah pleading on every podcast and interview for help to get the police to take this seriously.
Cadaver dogs were used only once at the house they lived in when Alissa went missing and the dog was only taken through the back yard. I think interviews with the older brothers that went camping and fishing with Michael should be conducted, but they all refuse to participate in the search for their sister. They all believe Michael killed Alissa, but most of them still want him in their lives. Sarah is the only one who will help. She has several ideas as to where the body could be located. I have tons of notes on possible locations in the area. I have driven some of these roads myself while on my way to a family trip to the lake. My husband, my daughter, Sedona, and I live life and make memories up and down these roads. Memories I get to make, because someone didn’t take that from me, but these simple opportunities were taken from Alissa.
What we need, what Alissa needs, are Cadaver dogs and people who won’t back down in the fight to help her. She needs someone who will ask the right questions and help Sarah find her sister. I have been able to connect with Sarah and ask her questions as well as join the Facebook group she runs. I have asked questions and gotten many responses from her. I have heard so many podcasts tell her story and share it with their audiences, and I am so thankful that so many people are helping Sarah gain media coverage. However, this time we don’t need the retelling of the same facts; we need someone to take our hands and fight with us. Someone who can help us ask the right questions and help support us along the way. All the amazing people that have collected all this information and did all these stories on behalf of Alissa laid the path for someone to take all of the pieces and finish this.
This case is alive because Sarah fights for Alissa every day. It’s alive because of all these amazing people telling her story. At this point, Sarah really feels as if the Phoenix police department won’t do anything to help her, and she’s constantly getting the runaround from them. With every day that passes, she has less time. There is less time to find Alissa and less time to confront her father and find the closure for so many who loved her and still love her today.
Driving ten minutes out of Phoenix you can find yourself in the desert, so I agree with Sarah’s theory that she’s buried very close by, and as I drive home through the valley every night and look up at the mountains ahead of me, I think of all the times I have probably been so close to her. So many of us are so close to her resting place every day and most have no clue that she even existed. Alissa Turney was a bright, beautiful, hopeful, light that this man tried to extinguish. I believe with all my heart that she fought through her last breath. Now it’s our turn to fight for her, to believe her, and to right this wrong that stole a sweet girl’s life eighteen years ago.
There are so many questions that I have from listening to the many podcasts and reading all the articles I can get my hands on. I feel there are so many important questions that have not been asked, at least not publicly. The Phoenix police department is tied up in all of this, and they continue pushing Sarah around and avoiding her because they don’t want to be liable for the case taking so long to be solved when the answers have been here all of this time. Alissa needs a strong person to take on her case and fight alongside her sister to get her justice and allow her to finally rest in peace, surrounded by all of the love she didn’t receive when she was living.
I have Sarah’s full support in reaching out for help, so please, please consider this case. I have been told since starting this project that I am wasting my time. I have been told I am never going to find Alissa, and that my efforts are futile. Listening to people say that it’s been eighteen years and to move on breaks my heart, but sometimes a broken heart is what it takes to get shit done. How do you move on when someone you loved is so violently ripped from your life? How do you put the pieces back together when you’re missing half of the puzzle? Alissa isn’t the only one who needs help or deserves justice in this case. It’s like a poison that’s seeped deep into the roots of the tree, and it needs to be burned down so this family can finally heal.
Although this is Alissa’s story, it’s Sarah’s story too. As Sarah has grown up, she’s slowly but surely lost everyone that she had on her side, mostly due to her father. Her mother and sister were taken from her at young ages. Her father and brothers, while still physically here, are unsupportive. Sarah’s life hasn’t always gone as planned, and often the tragedies and complicated family dynamics have altered her life. Her dad’s arrest for the pipe bomb possession derailed her college plans, nevertheless she graduated. She continues to struggle with balancing career opportunities and the fight for her sister, but in the end, as she says, “I will always be on the side of the child who was raped and murdered.” Despite the obstacles, Sarah has done very well for herself and is one of the strongest and kindest people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, and although her life will never be the same without her sister, bringing justice to Alissa’s name would be the greatest of all her accomplishments. Please consider helping us to shed light on the dark secrets that have plagued this family for far too long. Let’s let this family tree heal and start anew with the loving memories of Alissa. Let Alissa be the light in someone’s life and let her show other kids in these situations that they are not alone. Don’t let him get away with what happened to Alissa, and don’t let it happen again.
Erin Reed, Author
Brooke Nelson, Editor
Sources for article
20/20 episode Alissa Turney
Missing Alissa Podcast
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