Links to a.d.sullivan & info on Susan Walsh
Although the FBI once said the Mafia didn't exist, no one could have
sold Sue on such a lie.
The Mafia, as best described in the film "The Godfather," formed the
central part of Sue's personal mythology. From the day I met her to the
day I last saw her, Sue talked about the mob, and being stalked, as well
as secret plots of the CIA in which she was involved. Most of us shook
our heads when she made such claims in college, thinking her just a
little strange on their account.
While friends blamed these stories on drinking, the use of Xanax, or an
untreated bi-polar disease, Sue's stories predated all these things.
As in school, Sue shaped elaborate tales for her friends and business
associates, Robert Ludlum level stories about spies and stalkers, about
threatening calls she received in the middle of the night, about men who
called her beeper incessantly in order to get her attention. These men,
like the men we heard about over a decade earlier, just wouldn't leave
her alone, no matter how many times she told them to go away. Melissa
said Sue's beeper went off constantly, and Sue constantly said it was
one of her stalkers calling.
What amazed people was how nonchalant Sue had become about these
stalkings. While she managed to manufacture fear in other people, she
seemed to take the whole issue in stride, as if she ought to be stalked,
or deserved the attention. Yet during an interview she conducted at the
WFMU-FM radio station in June, Sue seemed troubled.
"It seemed like she had some secrets," Dorian Devon told the Herald &
But Sue sold everyone the same repackaged conspiracy theories. A man in
fatigues some students remembered from her conspiracies in college
became the mysterious "Number 22" in the 1990s. And the ex-boyfriends,
exbosses and former professors who stalked her on campus, became the
dark and sinister stalkers from sex clubs now. While she always
suggested the Mafia might be interested in her, now she had developed
motivation for their apparent interest, using contemporary Russian
history to bolster the tales she invented at school. She wasn't just
part of some mysterious plot any more, but a target of their
ill-intentions because of her reporting.
For this reason, many friends from Sue's college days think her stories
of stalking have no more validity in 1996 than they did in 1979 when
many of us first heard her telling them. Most of us heard some version
of these stories during our long association with Sue. Even Sue's
current collection of friends admit she had "a very vivid imagination,"
one which emphasized her love of danger. This was true in 1979 when many
of us met Sue for the first time at William Paterson College.
"She was always talking about people stalking her," said Dorothy. "She
even talked about knowing somebody from the CIA."
Dorothy said she once closely questioned Sue about the CIA man, asking
what he look like and where Sue met him, and never received a
satisfactory answer. Eventually, Sue pointed out someone.
"She showed me some skanky guy in fatigues," Dorothy said. "I think she
said his name was Jim."
Even Sue's updated 1996 version who she constantly referred to as "22"
is only a truck dispatcher. someone part of a local cult, celebrating
the 1970s legendary "22 caliber killer."
But all Sue's talk caused an immense amount of intrigue as she
constantly sought secrecy. When she worked as a waitress in the Totowa
section of Paterson between classes at school, she constantly left to
make or answer tethe Totowa section of Paterson between classes at
school, she constantly left to make or answer telephone calls or stepped
outside to meet people privately. Whenever a t
Sue perpetually used public telephones, part of some unquenchable need
to communicate with someone about some important issue. She rarely
explained about these calls in more than a few cryptic works, except to
emphasize the terrible importance of each call.
"Sometimes I thought she might be caught in some kind of phone sex,"
Dorothy said. "Or that she might be setting up some kind of kinky
But Sue always talked about men staking her, claiming that some of the
calls she got at work or school came from ex-lovers and others who
refused to leave her alone. At school, she told everyone that the
customers where she worked, truck drivers and cops and yes, CIA men,
were constantly pursuing her, too.
"She used to tell me how much the truck drivers really loved her," one
old friend from school said. Then later, she would tell us that these
men had begun to stalk her. She said they just wouldn't let her go."
In fact, Sue talked so much about being stalked that she gave people the
impression that everyone from students to teachers stalked behind her on
campus, though for the most part, she remained vague as to who.
"Sometimes I got the feeling from her that every man she met was
stalking her," Dorothy said.
Every conversation Sue had was salted with suggestions of stalking, and
she even alluded to them when talking to me about fiction and poetry.
Being largely out of touch with that part of her life, I thought her
joking, and perhaps my failing to pick up on her clues kept her from
enlisting me into her secret clan. Later, I learned that Sue recruited
people to help her resist her stalkers. These allies didn't merely sit
and listen to Sue's tales, but took an active part in keeping tabs on
these stalkers. Sue would have her friends call up her alleged stalkers,
then hand up. She said she needed to know where these men were at any
given moment. Her allies would lend sue money, give her rides, provide
her with safe places to sleep when the stalking became unbearable or
when she needed to drop out of sight for a while.
"She always had a secret friends the rest of us knew nothing about," one
of Sue's self-proclaimed victims said.
Many of the tales Sue told her friends in Nutley in the 1990s she
already had worked out in College as early as 1982. At school, she
claimed that men from the mob sought to "Flush her out" that she didn't
always give reason for their attraction to her or when she did, the
reasons often didn'tschool, she claimed that men from the mob sought to
"Flush her out" that she didn't always give reason for their a
This theme of stalking even filtered into her fiction as did the idea
that she could survive on the edge of the dark world, indeed, maybe even
thrive there. She seemed to like being a player in the game, immune to
the consequences of the dark world's violence. In a story she published
in the school's literary magazine, Sue more or less described herself as
a "thin bony bird who trailed unfriendly streets because of an
uncontrollable insidious energy.
For all her talk, Sue rarely confided in people about what this energy
might be, alluding to her deeper motivations in extremely vague terms.
Only a handful of people could claim to have an inkling as to what went
on inside her head, and even these few did not understand what energy
pushed her on. Ron Hardin thinks its madness, but others claim it was
ambition. What was this energy? Why did she feel so threatened (if she
really did)? Was it paranoia or fancy that made her tell such elaborate
tales which led Melissa to call Sue "the most paranoid person she'd ever
met. In her fictional story "Dry Ice" Sue said "There were people,
sticks with machine guns all around. They walked the streets. The tiny
creature knew that if she kept going, kept her feet steadily hitting the
ground, she could avoid the marble fire of their eyes."
Many of those who knew her at school, disagreed with Ridgeway's drug and
alcohol theories, saying Sue made up stories because she chose to,
inventing a consistent personal she wanted people to believe was her.
"She always used to pretend she was so brave and unwilling to give into
these mobsters," one friend said. "And she talked about how she was
constantly walking through dangerous situations."
"The truth is," Dorothy said. "Sue was up to her neck in shit she'd
caused, trouble she'd created, and if she was in danger, it was from
those people who wanted to give even with her for the hurt she put them
Not everyone thought of Sue as a victim or even as a remotely nice human
being, and over her four years at college, she apparently created a
number of enemies for life.
"She had a way of playing boy against boy and girl against girl," one
former school mate said. "If a girlfriend of hers expressed interest in
a boy, ten to one odds Sue would go after that boy, and land him before
her girlfriend could."
Around Sue, wise women became wary and kept their attractions to
themselves, and some women took a particular interest in watching what
Sue did, and listened closely to what she said, finding strange
contradictions in her tales.
"Sue used to talk about how much her stalkers bothered her, how she
really wished they would go away. But then, she would call them on the
telephone so much, they hardly had time to call her," said one of Sue's
former close friends.
In one instance, Sue came back from making a call to one of these men,
then began to go on and one about how afraid she was and how she wished
he would go away.
"But if you don't want him bothering you," this friend asked. "Why are
you calling him all the time?"
Sue gives people just enough information to worry. When Sue tells bad
stories about other people, she changes the dates, the times, the
places, when telling each person. If you could chart her stories, and
collect them, you find the inconsistencies, how she would say to one
person, how she went with another person to some particular place. When
telling the other person, she would say she went to that very place with
the first person. In reality, she might have been some place else
One friend of Sue's used to buy her lunch, worry about her, get her
coffee, comfort Sue if she was crying in bathroom.
"I spent a great deal of time taking care of Sue," one friend said. "She
would tell me we were very good friends and couldn't live without me,.
and how I helped keep her sane. She would complain about what a mess her
life was and wished how she could be like me, having control over my
life. Then she would ask me how I did it."
A months before she disappeared in July 1996, Sue would meet Glenn Kenny
had the book party for "Redlight," and try and sell him on the old
"It seemed that one ex-boyfriend of hers was a hit man for the mob who
had left in her possession a 90 page handwritten confession of his past
sins, which she in turn took to her friend in the FBI who's in love with
her, and mentioned to her friend from the CIA who's in love with her who
she met on account of being afraid of a previous boyfriend who's in the
RUSSIAN mob, the upshot of all these conspiratorial tendrils being that
she's not safe anywhere and that several parties are out to have her
killed, and did I know that back in the '80s she was on the verge of
being recruited by the CIA because of the high grades of her
intelligence tests and....etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
"She was trying to sell this tale to the publisher of Ridgeway's book
also, and kept trying to get me to commiserate.
" 'Glenn's known me for 20 years, and he knows I'm not delusional! Tell
"Well. Susan had, in fact, been many things over the years, but
seriously delusional was never one of them. Still, people do change. I
wasn't sure if she was having me on or what, but I was a little worried.
"And then again, for someone who was apparently in imminent danger of
assassination, she was pretty high-spirited, at one point doing a
variation on her go-go routine on the dance floor of Sally's, something
I generally would discourage a biological woman from pulling in that
environment (tends to make the queens think they're being shown up).
Before she disappeared in 1996, Sue said she told the police and the FBI
about the stalkers, and about this mob leader who allegedly visited her
apartment several months before. But each person had a different version
of this story. Some reports claim this was a Russian Mobster aggravated
by Sue's reports in the Village Voice. But one friend of Sue's and
another source for Ridgeway's book, said Sue had told her this was a
more conventional mobster who was concerned over a confession made
during a Newark police investigation. A still older and perhaps more
reliable friend said Sue had told him about the mobster, and this visit
involved a 50 page hand-written confession Sue had in her possession, a
confession that the mobster felt may have implicated him in some crime.
Sue claimed -- in some of these reports -- that the mob's pursuit came
because she spent too long in the wrong neighborhoods asking
uncomfortable questions. She claimed to have a friend on the FBI who
loved her, and one on the CIA who loved her as well, and she said some
people actually considered her dangerous.
Ridgeway, when interviewed by local newspapers said he was not overly
concerned over Sue's reports of danger. While she did ask some hard
questions concerning the go-go trade and did wander around some seedy
neighborhoods -- including Brighton Beach (the reported headquarters of
the Russian Mafia), Sue took a prescription drug Xanax. Combined with
her recent return to drinking, this drug may have hindered her
Yes, Ridgeway told the Newark Star Ledger, Sue ran into some problems
with the Russians, especially when she claimed some Russian women were
being held against their will by club managers, and yes, she wandered
around in a reckless disregard for danger, but Sue liked dangerous
situations, he said, and he believed Sue had become paranoid when she
spoke about being stalked.
"Sue likes to hear herself talk," said one friend. "She often talks
herself into circles, telling the same story in different ways, about
While most of Sue's current friends and her family believe she is in
trouble, either as the result of violent characters or something darker
in her head, Dorothy and others claim this is all part of "the Sue
"She always played herself off as a victim; she always presented herself
in earnest need, and needed your help in particular," Dorothy said. "She
would run around town begging rides from people, or borrowing their cars
and money and whatever else she could get -- always with the air of
hopelessness. But she was getting over on people. It was always a role
she was playing. She was a drama queen."
In appealing for help, Sue used to tell people she had this huge problem
that only this one person could help her solve, a problem that she could
not control. She was a target of some conspiracy or the result of an
involvement with shady people, people she fell into because she didn't
initially know what they were about.
"Sue always found gullible people as helpers, people not wise enough to
see through her act," Dorothy said. "She would make herself seem so
genteel to them, and emotional fleeting and make these people care so
deeply about her, and worry over her so much, believing she was so
These men -- sometimes women -- would think nothing about ruining their
own lives to help Sue, trying to nurture her, Dorothy said. These people
would give into Sue every wish and care.
"They cared so deeply they couldn't see what she was doing to them or
how she was hunting them," Dorothy said. "And they couldn't see how she
didn't care for them at all. They thought they were finding a real
relationship and what they got was mind-fucked."
At school, some school mates described Sue Walsh as "a constant flirt,"
saying she had a way of leading men on, then brushing them off.
"She's on a real power trip," one fellow writer once observed. "She
likes the face she can get away with it."
Most of those clever enough to observe it, admired Sue's delicate touch,
her ability to manipulate people into giving her what she wanted. She
often got other people to pay her bills, give her rides, buy her
groceries and lend her their car.
"She's a master manipulator," said Dorothy. "I know. She confided in me.
She would tell me what she was doing and how she operated. She was proud
of herself. She thought I was too stupid to remember things, but she was
the one who sometimes forgot what she told me. But she didn't have many
friends she could really rely on. So I just sat there and listened. She
told me everything."
And thus, we return again to the idea of SCUM, and Sue's dedication to a
revolution of Fucking Things Up.
But when Sue moved to Nutley, she came closer to making her fantasies
real than she might even have known. Her landlord, Louis Riccardi could
trace a direct blood line to the family of mobsters that haunted the
Vailsburg section of Newark for nearly a quarter century.
Within a five minute drive from Sue's apartment was the headquarters of
a Bloomfield-based Italian newspaper that served to clean up the mob's
bad public relations, threatening discrimination lawsuits that
associated Italians too closely with the Costa Nostra, thclean up the
mob's bad public relations, threatening discrimination lawsuits that
associated Italians too closely with the Costa Nostra, this despite
busts of pizza p
Sue could hardly have thrown a stone in any particular direction and not
hit a mobster of some kind. Just down the street at a local motel, two
people died during a mob-related murder during a drug deal just about
the time she came into Nutley. And a study of local prostitution showed
an odd circle of whore houses with Nutley at the circle's center.
I knew a lot about the Pizza connection as early as 1967 when I'd
witnessed the beating of several men in a Paterson pizza center. I was
waiting for a bus to New York. The pizza man, who mistook me for a boy
much younger than I was, warned me not to say anything, telling me the
man had owed him money. He also alluded to a possible visit to my own
family, if I was to go to the police. At the time, I had such a poor
relationship with the police that few officers would believe my report
as anything more than my usual vivid imaganation. I kept silent about
it, even though I cringed when two thugs dragged the bleeding victim to
the street, called an ambulance, and claimed he had been hit by a bus.
For this reason, I have always given Sue's stories more credence than
they deserved. Anyone who knew Sue even remotely agreed that
"conspiracy" was her middle name. She not only invented stories of
stalking, but enlarged upon them, built them into world-threatening
plots with her at their center. She was being hunted because she knew
too much and could thwart some secret attempt to murder a government
officials or steal some state secret for sale in the Soviet Union. She
told many people that the CIA and FBI both sought to recruit her because
of her high IQ.
Yet by moving to Nutley and associating with some of the local officials
here, Sue may have stumbled onto something as large as her imagination
built for us at school. She hobnobbed with the local police, the local
publisher, and the owners to the local go-go bars. People visited her
apartment at night, some of them married men with prominent positions in
town government, some with state and federal connections.
The Russian Mafia