In 1996, Susan Walsh left her apartment in Nutley, NJ, and never returned. In the months leading up to her disappearance, Walsh's journalistic career had taken off when she wrote a stunning exposé about human trafficking, which allegedly made her a target for the mafia. She had also gotten in deep with an underground club of people who claimed to be vampires, and her years of work as an exotic dancer had begun to affect her mental and physical health.
Walsh's disappearance in the summer of 1996 led to speculation of a mob hit, a drug overdose, some sort of vampiric ritual, or Walsh simply walking away from her life. Whatever happened to Susan Walsh, she's remembered by friends and family as a devoted mother and gifted writer. She was even working towards a master's degree in English and writing from NYU when she went missing.
This list takes a look at the tumultuous few months leading up to the vanishing of Susan Walsh.
Susan Walsh Went Missing On July 16, 1996
Susan Walsh said she would only be gone a half hour the day she disappeared. Walsh and her husband, Michael, were estranged at the time but lived in adjoining apartments. Walsh brought their young son, David, to Michael's apartment so he could watch him while she made a phone call from a payphone. Walsh even left her wallet and pager at the apartment, indicating she would be right back.
However, no one saw Susan Walsh leave her apartment, and no outgoing calls were made from the payphones in her neighborhood.
Michael would report her missing later that day.
Walsh Was A Journalist Who Got Her Break Reporting On The Sex Industry
Susan Walsh had paid her way through college by dancing at various clubs in New Jersey and continued to dance on the side as she tried to make it as a freelance writer. Walsh eventually got her break when she landed a research job at the iconic Village Voice in New York City. Walsh helped writers James Ridgeway and Sylvia Plachy research a book they were writing about the sex industry in New York.
Walsh then began her own investigation and wrote about how the Russian mafia was reportedly trafficking young girls through strip clubs in New Jersey. Walsh's own experience at the clubs reportedly allowed her access that other journalists had been unable to gain in the past.
After The Article Was Published, Walsh Worried The Mob Was After Her
Although Walsh's first article at the Village Voice received praise from colleagues and readers alike, she became worried that the Russian mafia would retaliate. Walsh told friends that cars were following her and that she felt like she was being watched. At one point, Walsh reportedly told friends that two contracts had been taken out to murder her, but it's unclear how Walsh obtained that information.
Walsh's father, Floyd Merchant, recalled later that "[t]he last time I met her, she was worried about [someone] having her killed. She was coming apart at the seams."
After 11 Years Of Sobriety, Walsh Began Using Drugs And Alcohol Shortly Before Her Disappearance
Walsh reportedly began drinking and taking drugs in college and drank to excess when she first started dancing. Walsh later became sober before getting married and having her son.
As her paranoia over the mob tracking her began to grow, she started to drink again. Walsh also started to take the prescription drug Xanax in order to curb her anxiety. According to Walsh's friend Jill Morley, Walsh also quit taking the medication that treated her bipolar disorder.
Walsh's Next Assignment Was Covering New York’s Vampire Subculture
After the success of Walsh's first article and while helping to research his book, James Ridgeway gave Walsh a tip about blood disappearing from a local hospital. The tip led Walsh to an underground vampire subculture in Manhattan where people would allegedly drink human blood.
According to Ridgeway, Walsh was fascinated by the culture and became increasingly involved in it. At one point, Walsh reportedly dated a man who claimed he was an actual vampire.
The 'Village Voice' Refused To Run The Vampire Article
Although Walsh spent a significant amount of time researching her article about the vampire underground, the Village Voice ultimately decided not to run the article. The paper's reasoning was that Walsh had lost her objectivity as a journalist while conducting research. When describing the situation on Unsolved Mysteries, James Ridgeway explained that Walsh "sort of took it at whole cloth."
Walsh went back to dancing full-time and never wrote another article for the Village Voice.