Nutley, New Jersey
Susan Walsh was 36 years old when she was last seen in Nutley, New Jersey, on July 16, 1996. She left her apartment on Washington Street in the early morning to use a payphone across the street. She left her 11 year old son in the care of her estranged husband Mark Walsh, who lived in a connecting basement apartment below them. She seemed to be in a hurry and she told Mark she would be back in half an hour, but she never returned. She left her purse, wallet, keys, medication, and her pager behind.
Susan is 5’6” and was 110-120 lbs at the time, with bleached blonde hair and blue eyes. She has a scar on her right wrist. Her childhood nickname was Suzie. She has a distinct New Jersey accent. Her maiden name is Young. She was last seen wearing a blank tank dress and black sandals, and she always wore a gold ring with a black stone. She has bipolar disorder and depression. She also smokes cigarettes.
In 1979, Susan worked as a freelance journalist for William Paterson University’s campus newspaper, where she also attended, to study English and writing. She worked intermittently as an erotic dancer/stripper to help pay her tuition and support her child. Susan struggled with substance abuse and alcoholism, but still graduated college with a Bachelor’s degree in 1988. She eventually worked as a writer for engineering and business publications. She also became a writer for “Screw” Magazine, a New York pornographic tabloid.
In 1996, she enrolled in New York University’s master’s degree program for writing, and around this time Susan chose to stop taking her bipolar medication without an obvious reason.
During the investigation, Susan’s husband stated she went to use a pay phone across the street, but according to police, there is no record of any outgoing calls made from the pay phones near her apartment the morning she vanished. It was noted that Susan’s calendar page for July of 1996 had been ripped out, and was not located in her home. There were very few clues to go on, until rumors circulated that her disappearance could have been connected to the investigative journalism she had been doing at the time. Susan had written an in-depth report about a strip club ring in which members of the Russian Mafia were allegedly forcing young girls into the sex industry, and it was published in The Village Voice, a popular magazine. After the article’s publication, friends said that Susan became paranoid that she was being stalked by organized crime members.
Susan had also explored an underground vampire community in New York City, but the newspapers decided not to run the story because her writing on the matter was not objective and clouded with opinion, due to the fact that she had dated a man who claimed to be an actual vampire.
Susan had also worked with a German documentary crew who made a film about Russian immigrants becoming go-go dancers.
A month before she vanished, Susan served as the primary researcher for the book Red Light: Inside the Sex Industry by James Ridgeway and Sylvia Plachy. Susan contributed photographs and personal writings to the book. James told police that he became concerned with Susan’s health when he saw her at the publishers party for the book. Apparently, her wrists were bandaged and he asked her about her drug and alcohol usage. She told him that she was fine and would seek help if she needed it.
Susan also participated in a documentary produced by her friend Jill Morley, called Stripped, which showed women working in the sex industry, and it featured an interview with Susan, where she said that her opinions on dancing had changed since she started doing it. She said she had loved the money at first, but then she quickly hated the job and began to detest the profession and the patrons.
Susan had been recorded in a group interview for Stripped, on July 14, 1996, during which her pager went off and she stated she had a stalker. This interview was just two days before she vanished. Filmmaker and friend Jill Morley was at this interview with Susan, and upon speaking to her, Susan told her she had bronchitis, emphysema and an ulcer. She said she’d been in the hospital twice that week. She talked about having mood swings and being depressed.
In 2006, an article from The New York Post stated that Susan had confided to a former boyfriend that another of her ex boyfriends had been stalking her.
There are many different scenarios on what might have happened to Susan, but there is no evidence pointing one way or another. Few believe she overdosed, others think she was murdered by her husband, her stalker ex boyfriend, or a member of the Russian Mafia. Some people, including Detective John Rhein of the Nutley, NJ Police Department, believe Susan is still alive and chose to go into hiding. An old friend of Susan’s, Melissa Hines, told the police that one month after she went missing, she saw Susan getting into a limousine. She is quoted saying: “I definitely think it was her. I’m positive that I saw Susan a month after she disappeared.” Melissa wrote down the vehicle’s license plate and called the police. Detective Rhein followed up on this lead, and tracked down the owner of the limo.
“He had been with a woman fitting Susan’s description. He did view photographs and felt he was pretty sure that it had been her. But again, we had no positive identification of Susan Walsh at that time.”
Melissa also told investigators: “Susan definitely felt she was in danger. She was scared for her life and I think she also feared that her son’s life could be in danger too. Susan actually told me that she wasn’t going to make it in the next year. She felt that she was going to be killed. I thought at first it was just her imagination, but I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I would see cars follow her, both of us, people follow my car when she was in my car. So definitely, someone was stalking her.”
Susan’s father Floyd believes the mob was after her. “People in organized crime were concerned that Susan had information that would send them to jail.”
Susan’s friends and family say that she would have never left her son of her own will, but the question still remains, where is Susan Walsh?
If you have any information on the whereabouts of this individual, please contact the NJ State Police at 800-709-7090 or the Nutley Police Department at 973-284-4940.