Alissa Turney: Stepfather charged with murder of 17-year-old girl who went missing in 2001

Victim’s sister Sarah created true crime podcast and TikTok videos about disappearance

James Crump@thejamescrump
Friday 21 August 2020 23:50
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Nearly 20 years after 17-year-old Alissa Turney disappeared in Arizona, her stepfather Michael Turney has been charged with her murder.

Mr Turney was arrested on Thursday in Mesa, Arizona, and charged with second-degree murder, Maricopa County attorney Allister Adel announced at a press conference.

Ms Adel did not elaborate on what led to Mr Turney’s arrest, but did confirm that the indictment was issued by a grand jury, according to NBC News. It is not known whether he has yet had a chance to enter a plea.

Alissa was last seen on the final day of her junior year at Paradise Valley High School on 17 May 2001, after she was picked up by Mr Turney at around 11am.

He told the Phoenix police Department that they had argued about her desire to have more freedom on the journey back to their home, and said she went straight to her room when they arrived.

Mr Turney told the authorities that he then left the residence at about 1pm to pick up her younger sister Sarah Turney from a field trip, but when they arrived home, they found a note in Alissa’s room, that said she was running away from the home to go to California.

The police concluded that there was no foul play involved in her disappearance, despite many family members asking them to continue investigating the case.

However, in 2008 the authorities reopened the case, and investigators from the Phoenix Police Department Missing Persons Unit declared that foul play was a factor in her disappearance, sergeant Maggie Cox told NBC.

Ms Cox said that the department decided to reopen the case after discovering that there were allegations of sexual abuse against Mr Turney, and investigators searched the house that the family lived in at the time that she disappeared.

During their search, investigators found video tapes dating back decades, including surveillance footage from outside the house, but they could not find any records from the day of Alissa’s disappearance.

However, the authorities also found 26 homemade explosive devices and 19 high-caliber assault rifles, in what was the largest stockpile of explosives discovered in the history of the Phoenix Police Department, according to NBC.

In 2010, Mr Turney pleaded guilty to possessing the 26 explosives and was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, but was released in 2017.

Alissa’s sister Sarah, who was only 12 years old when she disappeared, never gave up on her sister’s case and created a true crime podcast series and produced viral TikToks about her in 2019, according to Buzzfeed.

After one of her TikToks, comprised of home video footage where Turney could be heard saying “Sarah, dad’s a pervert”, reached more than 21 million views, attention was once again shone on the case.

After the news of Mr Turney’s arrest was announced, Sarah reacted on Twitter, and wrote: “I’m shaking and I’m crying. We did it you guys. He’s been arrested. Omg 😭 thank you. #justiceforalissa Never give up hope that you can get justice. It took almost 20 years but we did it.”

During the press conference on Thursday, Ms Adel gave credit to Sarah for her efforts in raising awareness of her sister’s case, and said: “Your perseverance and commitment to finding justice for your sister Alissa is a testament to the love of a sister.”

She added: ”Because of that love, Alissa’s light has never gone out.”

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