One day in July 1996, Susan Walsh left her home to make a phone call, but she didn’t come back when she promised.
This caused the police to search for her for a long time, but there wasn’t much evidence to help them figure out what happened. Susan’s case is one of the cases featured on the Paramount+ show Never Seen Again. So if you want to know what happened to her and what’s going on with the case right now, here’s what we know.
What did Susan Walsh do?
Susan Walsh was born in February 1960 and grew up in a middle-class family. After high school, she went to a state university in New Jersey to major in English and communications. At that time, those who wanted to become journalists wrote for the university newspaper. Sometime in 1984, he or she graduated. Susan worked part-time as an exotic dancer to pay for her master’s degree at New York University. She had also worked as a journalist intern for The Village Voice.
On July 16, 1996, then 36-year-old Susan gave birth to her 11-year-old son, David, to Mark Walsh, who was no longer her husband. They both lived in Nutley, New Jersey in the same apartment building. She was reportedly supposed to go to a nearby payphone to make a call and meet someone. Mark, on the other hand, couldn’t remember seeing Susan leave the house, and she didn’t come back. So her family immediately reported her missing and the police began a frantic search for her.
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Is she still alive or has she died?
No one had seen Susan Walsh using the phone and there was no record of a call made from that payphone. It looked like she just vanished into thin air. Before that things had gotten better for Susan. She wrote an article for The Village Voice stating that Russian gangsters control immigrant women and force them into sex work.
Susan’s behavior began to change sometime after the article was published. Floyd Merchant, her father, said she thought there were two contracts to kill her and that she started drinking again after being sober for more than ten years. It was also said that Susan was taking Xanax and stopped taking her medicine for bipolar disorder. She reportedly became increasingly paranoid, telling her friends that she was being followed and that the mob was after her.
Susan had also done research for a book about how dirty the sex industry was. At a publishers’ party in June 1996, James Ridgeway, co-author of the book Red Light: Inside the Sex Industry, recalled that Susan’s wrists were bandaged because he was concerned about her drug and alcohol use. Despite all this information, the police didn’t know much about where Susan was.
Some reports suggested that Susan could be part of an underground vampire subculture in New York City, New York. This was based on an article she wrote for The Village Voice. At the time, she was allegedly following a tip from James that hospitals in the area were losing blood. People in the subcultures are also said to have drunk human blood. Reportedly, Susan became very involved in this subculture, causing her work to lose its objectivity. The editors also did not print their article on the same topic. But there was nothing that clearly connected Susan’s disappearance to that.
Mark was never considered a suspect, but there were various stories as to whether or not he let the police conduct forensic tests at Susan’s home. All police found was that the July page had been ripped from their calendar. Over time, police said they didn’t think her death had anything to do with the Russian mob. Family members have said she would never leave her son and with her belongings still at home it seems unlikely she went alone.
In 2006, police said they were looking for new leads. One of Susan’s ex-boyfriends, Christian Pepo, said her other ex, Billy Walker, was stalking and harassing her before she disappeared. Christian said Susan had a recording of Billy saying he was going to kill her and she had a plan to get rid of him. As of 2009, the case was still open, and police had not ruled out the possibility that Susan was still alive. Arthur Merchant, her half-brother, sued the Nutley Police Department in September 2020 for information about the investigation. Previously, her father had hired a private investigator to investigate what was going on.
On February 18, 1960, Susan Young gave birth to Susan Walsh. As a child she wanted to be a poet. [needs citation] Walsh studied English and writing at William Paterson University, where she also worked as a reporter for the school newspaper. Walsh worked part-time as a stripper and erotic dancer to fund her college. Despite struggling with substance abuse and alcoholism, she received her bachelor’s degree from college in 1988 and went on to work as a writer for engineering and business publications. She later got a job as a writer for Screw Magazine.
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Walsh moved out of the home she shared with her son in Nutley, New Jersey, on July 16, 1996. Her ex-husband Mark lived among them. Walsh had left to run errands and use a payphone across the street to make calls, leaving her son with his father for the time being. That was the last time anyone saw Walsh. When she disappeared, she was in the middle of a master’s program in English at New York University. She also worked as a freelance journalist and did various jobs as a stripper to support herself and her son. When she disappeared, her friends worried that she had been on drugs again, even though she had been clean for 11 years.
Police were able to rule out Walsh’s ex-husband as a person who may have taken her. It was later discovered that the page was missing from Walsh’s calendar at her apartment for the entire month of July 1996. Although the police didn’t have much to do with their search for Walsh, there were rumors that her disappearance might have something to do with the investigative journalism she was doing at the time.
Walsh had written a lengthy article for The Village Voice about a ring at a strip club where members of the Russian mafia were allegedly forcing young girls to work in the sex industry. Walsh also looked into an underground vampire community in New York City after writing this article, but the newspaper didn’t run the story because they felt Walsh’s writing on the subject was unfair. In the end, police couldn’t find a link between Walsh’s disappearance and any of the articles she was working on. While writing for The Voice, Walsh became friends with journalist James Ridgeway. Ridgeway called Walsh his “most trusted” writer.
At the time, Walsh had also acted in a film called Stripped, directed by her friend Jill Morley, about women working in the sex industry. Walsh spoke of having a “stalker” in a group interview for the film, which was taped on July 14, 1996, two days before her disappearance. She had also worked as a go-go dancer for a German documentary film crew making a film about Russian immigrants who became go-go dancers. Shortly before she disappeared, the BBC also made a documentary on the same subject. Walsh’s last job was helping Ridgeway and Sylvia Plachy with their book Red Light: Inside the Sex Industry. Walsh was the lead researcher for the book, and she also sent in photographs and personal writings about a month before her disappearance.
In 2006, the New York Post ran an article stating that Walsh had told one of her ex-boyfriends that another of her ex-boyfriends was stalking her. The article also said that Walsh’s husband, Mark, had refused to let police conduct forensic tests at their home.
Susan A. Walsh, MD, directs the Yale Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) program and is a pediatric emergency physician. When a child comes to the emergency room, she tells the parents, “I promise we will take good care of your child. Ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable with our treatment.”
One of the most memorable cases for Dr. Walsh was when a 5-year-old girl was brought to the emergency room with an abnormal rhythm, or irregular heartbeat. “She arrived gray and dead. We were able to check on her and treat her with a shock that got her blood flowing again. Within minutes she was awake and well again, says Dr. Walsh.
dr Walsh is Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics (Emergency Medicine) and Emergency Medicine at the Yale School of Medicine. He is also a leading instructor for simulation training, where junior or resident physicians learn and practice emergency and other skills on manikin. She specialized in pediatric emergency medicine because “as a parent and a doctor, I’m driven by helping sick or injured children and their families through a crisis.”
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