Real Name: Susan Walsh
Nicknames: Susan Young (maiden name)
Location: Nutley, New Jersey
Date: July 16, 1996
Occupation: Reporter and Stripper
Date of Birth: February 18, 1960
Weight: 110 pounds
Marital Status: Divorced
Characteristics: Caucasian female. Bleached blond hair, blue eyes
Details: On July 16, 1996, thirty-six-year-old Susan Walsh hurriedly dropped her son, David, off at her estranged husband Mark's house. Although she didn't say where she was going, she claimed she would return within a few minutes, but she never did, vanishing into the streets of Nutley, New Jersey. Although authorities believe that she chose to disappear, others believed she met with foul play, possibly murdered by mobsters, dying of a drug overdose or vanishing into the local strange subculture of sex and danger.
From her early childhood, Susan's dream was to be a poet and a writer, but a broken home and unhappy childhood made reaching her goal a constant struggle. By the time she was in her twenties, she was an alcoholic, drug addict, and stripper. Stripping helped pay her way through college, but she still kept her dream in mind. She graduated in 1984, and began cleaning up her act. By 1988, she was four years sober, married, and a devoted mother. According to her friend, Melissa Hines, the two things that were most important to her were David and her job as a journalist.
Susan and Mark eventually separated, and in order to support David, she went back to stripping. Ironically, that provided the critical boost to her journalist career. She eventually got an internship at New York City's free-wheeling "Village Voice", researching the sex industry. She soon found a great story about Russian mobsters in New Jersey who were allegedly forcing young Russian women to work in strip clubs like slaves. She earned praise for her article, but she also received threats and felt she may have made enemies.
Susan's next project may have also placed her in danger. In the early nineties, bizarre vampire clubs began appearing in New York City's Greenwich Village boasting a wealthy clientele, many of whom claimed to be real blood drinkers. She started researching this vampire world, even dating a man who claimed to be part of the undead. She wrote a detailed article about vampirism, but she apparently believed too much into it and became upset when the "Village Voice" did not run her story.
In June 1996, a month before Sisan vanished, her career was again on an up-swing. She had done primary research for the book Red Light: Inside the Sex Industry by James Ridgeway and Sylvia Plachy. However, the night of the publisher's party, James noticed that her wrists were bandaged. He learned that, along with cutting them, she was taking tranquilizers and had started drinking again. She however brushed it off and said she would get help if she thought she needed it.
By then, Susan was back to dancing, and during a documentary made by an old friend, Jill Morley, she talked about the toll that stripping had taken on her life, and how it was difficult for her to even hold onto life. She told Jill that she had bronchitis, emphysema, and an ulcer. She also said that she had been to the hospital twice that week. She also said that she had mood swings and was depressed. Two days after Jill last saw her, she mysteriously disappeared.
At, it was believed that Susan collapsed from depression and poor health, but police realized that if that were the case, her body would have been found by now or she would have surfaced in a hospital. Her family and friends believe her continued absence meant that she was deceased. James Ridgeway believes that she may have overdosed and someone disposed of her body. However, the authorities decided that for some unknown reason, she chose to disappear.
Detectives have spoken to several people who have claimed to have seen Susan, including Melissa Hines, who claims that a month after she vanished, she saw Susan next to a black car. When she yelled to her, she and the men she was with got in the car and drove off. The license plate number was tracked down, and the driver said he believed that he was with her around the time she was spotted, but he could not be certain. Melissa believes that if she is alive, she may be deliberately hiding out because she was in danger and that the mob was after her. Before she vanished, she and Melissa were followed several times. To this day, nobody knows what really happened to her.
Interestingly, the month of July was ripped off of Susan's wall calendar. Some believe that it was purposefully removed to cover up an appointment that she may have had that day. However, no one knows for sure. This case remains unsolved.
Suspects: Many believe that Susan met with foul play and that her disappearance was related to the Russian mob, or it was related to the vampire clubs and cults. Some believe she died of a drug overdose, while the police believe she left on her own accord. Her family, however, does not believe that she left voluntarily because she left behind nearly all of her personal belongings, including her purse, keys, pager, money, and medication. Also, she left David behind.
Although not mentioned in the broadcast, some consider Mark a suspect in Susan's disappearance. Interestingly, he refused to have police do forensic tests on their apartment. He also claimed that on the day she vanished, she went to use a pay phone less than a block from their apartment. However, police could not find any records of outgoing calls being made from pay phones near their apartment that morning. Officially, police have not named Mark a suspect in this case.
An ex-boyfriend of Susan's claimed that she told him that another ex-boyfriend of hers, Billy Walker, was stalking her. It is not known if he is considered a suspect in this case.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the January 31, 1997 episode. It was also featured on Disappeared.
Results: Unsolved. In 2006, investigators stated that they were now certain that Susan was murdered. They believed that she would not abandon her family, especially David, and go years without contact. They are currently investigating several possible suspects, including Mark and Billy.
- Susan Walsh on Unsolved.com
- Susan Walsh on Wikipedia
- Susan Walsh on the Charley Project
- Susan Walsh on the Doe Network
- "Vampires" May Play Role in Missing Dancer Case
- Links sought to vanished N.Y. stripper
- Missing, Presumed Undead
- Three women and the sex industry
- '96 Stripper Vanish Clue
- Woman vanishes and so does a page from her calendar
- Susan Walsh: Could one news article be to blame for the 36-year-old journalist's disappearance?