What happened to Alissa Turney? She went missing from her Phoenix, AZ, high school in 2001 at the age of 17, and nobody has seen her since. The Alissa Turney disappearance has remained a mystery since the early 2000s, and law enforcement has failed to crack the case. Investigators' jobs were made exponentially more difficult by the fact that the case wasn't actively investigated until five years after Turney's disappearance.
What originally appeared to be a runaway teen scenario is now widely considered a case of foul play, with multiple suspects considered over the years. Interviews with those close to Turney reveal a portrait of a complicated young woman who was intelligent and social, but whose personal life was much darker than many would guess. While no charges have been filed, her sister Sarah's theories point to their allegedly abusive stepfather, Mike Turney, as the likely culprit. Here are all of the details that have been released about Alissa Turney's confounding missing person case.
An official investigation into Alissa's disappearance didn't commence until a serial killer, Thomas Albert Hymer, confessed to taking her life. After he was taken into custody in Georgia following the brutal slaying of a woman in Florida, Hymer selected Alissa's photo from a lineup and identified her as one of his victims.
Hymer told authorities that he took Alissa to a motel and violated her, after which he strangled her and dismembered her body in the bathtub. His story contained several details that conflicted with other witness statements about Alissa, including his claim that she used dope and had uncommon sexual appetites.
Authorities determined Hymer did not end Alissa's life and was merely seeking notoriety, but his confession launched a greater investigation into what actually happened to the young woman.
Alissa's disappearance left much confusion in its wake. She left all of her personal belongings behind, including her cellphone, and she never cashed out the $1,800 in her bank account. She did not call anyone or contact any of her friends. Her stepfather claimed to have found a note she left in her room stating she had run away from home and was moving to California.
Authorities did not question the note, although a runaway leaving all of their possessions and cash behind is highly unusual behavior. Alissa's family was shocked that she would leave them, but police declined to investigate further.
Alissa's younger sister, Sarah Turney, walked home from school on May 17, 2001, when her father failed to pick her up. He was also not at their family home. Sarah went to a friend's house, where Michael Turney finally came to get her and informed her that he couldn't get in touch with Alissa. The two of them searched for her and attempted to contact her, but with no luck.
About a week later, Mike claimed to have received a call from Alissa, who allegedly told him not to look for her. If the call did take place, it marked the last time anyone ever heard from Alissa.
Mike did eventually reveal that he took her out of school early on the day she vanished. The two had lunch together, but the outing ended in an argument. If true, this interaction makes Mike Turney the last person to see Alissa before she disappeared.
As police investigated Alissa's case further, they uncovered many strange things about the Turney home. Mike Turney had reportedly outfitted the house with security cameras, both outside and inside. He also installed surveillance equipment on all the phones, allowing him to record every call.
Turney has been described as a "strict" father to his children, especially toward Alissa. Sarah Turney even claimed Mike would follow Alissa to her job at Jack-in-the-Box and watch her as she worked.