Desperately Seeking Susan

Desperately Seeking Susan

On July 16, 1996, Susan Walsh of Nutley, New Jersey, was in a hurry. She dropped off her son, David, with her estranged husband, and said she needed to run a few errands. Susan never returned. Police believe Susan Walsh simply chose to disappear, while those close to her fear she may have met an untimely end.

Despite her bitter childhood, Susan dreamed of being a poet. By the time she turned 20, however, she found herself as a substance abuser and stripper. Still, she kept her hopes alive, using her dancing tips to pay her way through college. By the time she graduated in 1988, she began her writing career.

According to Susan’s friend, Melissa Hines, Susan had been sober for over four years when she got married and became a devoted mother. Eventually, she and her husband separated. Her writing jobs didn’t pay enough to support her son, so Susan went back to stripping for a steady income.

Eventually, Susan landed an internship at New York’s alternative newspaper, The Village Voice. Because of her background as a stripper, she was assigned to research the sex industry. She soon turned up a hot story: Russian mobsters in New Jersey were allegedly forcing young immigrant women to work like slaves in strip clubs.

While Susan earned praise for her Russian mob article, she also received serious threats when it was published. But that didn’t stop her from taking another dark assignment, this time investigating vampire nightclubs frequented by goth club kids. However, some took it further than just black outfits. Some were even drinking real blood.

Susan was attracted to the vampire world. She even started dating a man who claimed to be one of the undead. To Susan’s disappointment, The Village Voice never ran her vampire story. She went back to dancing full time, which began taking a physical and mental toll on her.

Forty-eight hours after a friend last saw her, Susan disappeared. Did she collapse because of her depression and poor health? Or was she out there somewhere, waiting for help? Susan’s friends had to consider darker theories. One journalist believes she may have overdosed. The police believed she was still alive.

An old friend told the police that they saw Susan after she disappeared, getting into a limousine. She is positive she saw her a month after her disappearance. They ran the plates and contacted the owner, who did describe a woman who fit Susan’s brief.

Some believe Susan was deliberately hiding out in fear of her own safety. It’s possible she had been stalked, threatened by the mob, or otherwise endangered. Her father, Floyd Merchant, passed in 2013 without knowing what happened to his daughter. Susan’s friend plans on making a documentary about her disappearance.

UPDATE: In September of this year, Susan’s half-brother filed a lawsuit against the Nutley Police Department with hopes to obtain information about the investigation into Susan’s disappearance. If you know anything about what happened to Susan Walsh, please leave us a tip at unsolved.com.

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season nine with Robert Stack and in season four with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Robert Stack. Various seasons available now on Hulu.