Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Missing: Susan Walsh

One of SB's interests is true crime/cold cases. This also includes missing persons, but only nice-looking missing persons. I don't care about fug missing persons. I know this is shallow, but so am I.

Anyhoo, Susan Walsh's disappearance sticks in my mind. Some of the cases stay with you, and if you're like me, sometimes in the grip of insomnia, you think about them in the middle of the night. This case is one of those. Case summary below.

Susan Walsh, Missing Stripper
By Jill Morley

I love the show America’s Most Wanted on Saturday nights. Saturday nights are a bust for me. I teach and play tennis all day and am too exhausted to do anything after 7 p.m. Besides, host John Walsh has gained much sympathy from me over the years. What with the disappearance of his son and his determination to make right in the world by developing this show, how could one hold anything against him? Yes, he’s a bit forced and righteous and tv-head-ish with a shellac of gray hair, but I actually think he is sincere.

Also, I have a friend who disappeared five years ago and have become obsessed with missing people stories.

Susan Walsh (no relation)wrote a story about the Russian mob for the Village Voice, had an 11-year-old son and made ends meet by stripping in New Jersey go-go bars. Smart and funny, she was sort of a hippie with an edge. She had long blonde hair and was extremely thin. A manic-depressive, she would go off her medications routinely, sometimes taking Xanax for the high. She dated guys she claimed were in the mob and stalking her. At 36, her skin was worn from many nights working in smoky go-go bars gyrating in front of men’s leering faces. I interviewed her for Stripped, a documentary I had been making about strippers, the night before she disappeared.

Stripping was a job Susan came to detest. In the beginning she enjoyed the money and attention. But in the interview she said, "Once I realized these men were erect and hard and it was all about their biology and not because they liked me, I became furious with men." Her rage emanates in a piece she wrote and performed that aired on Midnight Blue, Al Goldstein’s cable show. In it, she slides her bikini top off, dances to pulsating porno music with a fan blowing her hair back, looks seductively into the camera and her voiceover says, "Thank you, pathetic droplets of insect mucus. Each night you go to bed, alone; you polish your poles with your scabby fingers contemplating how many times you grabbed my pubic hair for the same five-second orgasm you could’ve gotten from spending five dollars on a glossy magazine instead of 50 dollars at a go-go bar acting like a cartoon... Did I mention that I hate your penis?" It is wild, to say the least. When she first showed it to me, I thought it was funny and bizarre. Now when I look at it, I feel sorry for her having so much anger.

When I asked her why she still danced, she said it was because she was in an addictive swing. After 11 years of sobriety, she started drinking again because the job became too painful; she felt trapped because, according to her, she was the only one supporting her son. "Staying in it is killing me," Susan said. "I’m scared right now."

Susan disappeared July 16, 1996. According to her ex-husband, Mark Walsh, Susan left the apartment complex they shared in Nutley, NJ, that morning, leaving her wallet and beeper at home, and never returned. Perhaps she went to make a phone call. Maybe she went to "meet some guy," as Mark told one reporter. Maybe she never left the house at all.

Soon after she disappeared, there were "sightings" of her in Newark. None of them turned out to be Susan. Bounty hunters volunteered to search for her. Mobsters were suspected, and it got bumped up to a federal case. Unsolved Mysteries did a story on her, and, most recently, a show called Million Dollar Mystery showed interest in her story.

How could this have happened to my friend? Her story has become a tabloid odyssey! She was just a sweet woman with major problems. When I saw her the day of the interview, she looked sick, like she was in a downward spiral, but I thought she would recover. I never dreamed I would be one of the last people to see her.

She started to consume my thoughts. Shortly after her disappearance, I was hired as a reporter on a radio documentary for NPR where I went undercover as a stripper to find out what had happened. The dancers seemed to think it was a mob hit. Her go-go agent thought this biker guy Susan dated kidnapped her to impress his friends. I frequented some of the predominantly Russian go-go bars, but couldn’t tell whether that was true or not. Most of the Russian women did not speak English and the ones who did didn’t want to get in trouble with their agents.

After a club owner in Newark became angry with me for asking his dancers questions and not getting on the stage myself, he motioned to this huge bouncer to boot me out of the bar. Luckily, my partner saw what was going on and we got to our car before they did. I was glad they never got close enough to see that I was wearing a wire.

The story aired on NPR, but we never got any more leads on what might have happened to Susan. Searching for her proved to be dangerous. Since she loved her son so much, I couldn’t imagine her leaving without him. I have come to accept that she is probably dead. That it may have been an unconscious suicide. That she knew she was continually putting herself in unsavory situations, and knew the risk. The risk she accepted. The risk she lived by.

Watching America’s Most Wanted always makes me think of Susan. I wonder if John Walsh would consider posting her picture after all these years have passed. Maybe he can wag his finger at the television and get someone to unearth some info on what happened. Maybe more exposure even this late in the game will help.

But I’m not sure that the idea of putting her out in public consciousness again is helpful. It’d probably be most helpful only to those of us who miss her.


debbi radford said...

Hey SB:

Are you trying to ruin the very little social life I have left with putting the Susan mystery in front of my dumbstruck face?

Meanwhile, here is this to whet your whistle, so to speak:

I do not recall hearing of this Amy person before; more research is required. To what end I do not know.....


debbi radford said...

Ok, I had printed off the Susan story to read during dinner, but found I could not resist. I, too, used to love America's Most Wanted and that sexier than Anderson Cooper host named John Walsh. I read his book about Adam and was somewhat pissed off to find out he had cheated on his wife (and then she cheated on him) which all came out in the murder investigation. But he seemed contrite in his retelling of this horrid time in their lives and I let it go. Then 2 or 3 years ago, he had an affair again on Reve and she filed for divorce. Apparently, they made up, but I sort of separated from him then. I can see with his great looks that fidelity would be hard.
AND...I just happen to have my own somewhat recent missing persons story. Will share it in bits and pieces if you are interested, but I dont want to cause you more distress either. Let me know. No happy ending to my tale of woe either except I do have one reason to think he is still alive.

Leaving you hanging, Debbi

Sarcastic Bastard said...

I would be very interested to hear your missing persons tale. You can either post it here or send it to me at my home e-mail account:

I'll check out Branded to Death. Thanks for the tip!

Mercer Update: She has continued to vomit at least once a day, so I got desperate and got online and found a vet who prescribes a raw food diet. Mercer, I found, has the symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, which vets tend to treat with nasty steroids. This vet in CA recommended either making the food or a brand of cat food that I found at my local Superpetz. The Hills Prescription Diet food that my vet had me give her was the total wrong thing!

I went right away after work last night and purchased some of the new food. So far, no vomiting! I was getting desperate, because Mert was getting worrisomely thin.

She loves the new food, and it's very high protein and very low carb. The CA vet's theory is that cats shouldn't have a bunch of wheat and rice and fillers in their food since their natural diet is one of mice, meat, etc. Cats stomachs aren't made to digest carbs. She also said they should only eat wet food because it has a higher meat content and more water. Made sense to me. Cross your fingers!

debbi radford said...

So glad to hear about Mercer! What a relief for you.

I will likely send my missing persons story in full to your email account sometime soon. It will take awhile to type it and with the weekend coming up, alcohol must take precedence - you understand, of course!

For now, I am still taken with your last post about the Real Housewives of wherever and First of all, I pretty much watch and rewatch all episodes on BRAVO over and over and over again and I never get sick of it. My husband thinks I am deluded. Do you know about Gilmore of He blogs about them and illustrates as well. It is such fun! is my second fav gossip site after I have never posted there however (in fact, you might be surprised to hear I almost never post comments). Anyway, Michael's sick humor kills me everytime! We keep great company! P.S. My all time fav BRAVO show was Blow Out with Jonathan. I was soooo disturbed when there was no 3rd season, nor an explanation. Do you love Kathy Griffin as much as I do too? Cheers to the weekend! Debbi

Sarcastic Bastard said...

I am looking forward to reading your missing persons story, and I TOTALLY understand about the alcohol taking precedence. The drink must always come first.

Oddly, since we have so much in common, Kathy Griffin annoys the shit out of me. She's really smart and witty, but just too damn loud. I don't like loud people at all.

I'll check out Gilmore's site. Thanks for the tip.

Drink one for me. I'm forty-fucking-three today. How the hell did that happen, Debbi?

debbi radford said...

I am fifty-fucking-one! Never thought I would live a day past 29 to be honest. You are younger, so get over it!

I empathize with your hate for the cell phone. Nothing is worse except texting. Except someone texting someone else as you are talking to them and not realizing how goddamn rude that is!

Happy fing birthday SB! D

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Thanks for the birthday wishes, Debbi.

You are right about the texting. I'd personally like to hammer every cell phone I see.

Thanks, as always, for reading and for staying in touch.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

What's going on, my friend? I miss you.