Won't They Miss Me When I'm Gone
Links to a.d.sullivan & info on Susan Walsh
I don't think anyone knows why Sue picked July 16 to disappear. But she
rarely did anything of such a momentous occasion without having
"She often went on and on about the significance of things," one friend
from college told me.
Goldstein called her "a drama queen," and her life, from age three to
thirty six was a constant stage production, much of which she
If she chose to vanish on July 16, then the date must have had
significance for her. This was a moment of high drama, she would not let
it slip away, although in her angry state, she may have hurried the
moment, struggling to send her message of desperation to all those who
had abandoned or hurt her. The meaning of the day may have had some
personal significance, rather than public, or she may simply have been
waiting for some other act to transpire so she couldwould not l
If of public significance, then numerous possibilities leap to mind.
July 16 was the last day of the anti draft riots in New York City in
1863. It also the day that Parley P. Christensen became the presidential
candidate for the Farmer's Labor Party in 1920 and the date of the first
general strike in U.S. history by the San Francisco Long Shoremen in
More fitting her temperament and her ill-luck, Sue might have shaped her
disappearing act around the man Douglas G. "Wrong-way" Corrigan, who
unable to obtain a flight exit permit to Europe, took off from New York
and landed in Dublin Ireland, claiming he was heading for California in
1938. FDR was nominated for president in 1940 on July 16. And perhaps of
more significance to Sue, and fitting with her sense of drama, it was
also the date when the first atomic bomb was detonated in New Mexico in
Yet for the rest of us, a much more fitting event happened on July 16,
in 1956, when Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Balley Circus ceased
performances under the big top.
Perhaps Sue sought to emulate the poet, Weldon Kees, poet, writer,
documentary film maker, painter, jazz pianist, composer, photographer,
who vanished mysteriously on July 18, 1955. Kees' 1943 poem "For my
Daughter" seem to capture Sue's relationship to the men in her mother's
Looking into my daughter's eyes I read
Beneath the innocence of morning flesh
Concealed, hintings of death she does not heed
Coldest of winds have blown this hair, and mesh
Of seaweed snarled these miniatures of hands;
The night's slow poison, tolerant and bland
Has moved her blood. Parched years that I have seen
tThat may be heres appear: foul, lingers
Death in certain war, the slim legs green.
Or, fed on hate, she relishes the sting
Of others' agony; perhaps the cruel
Bride of a syphilitic or a fool.
These speculations sour in the sun.
I have no daughter. I desire none.
Or she may have chosen to mark the moment in 1962 when two army officers
were ambushed, marking the first dramatic deaths of Americans in
In 1967, the riots in Newark were well underway. She might also have
thought to honor the launch of Apollo 11, bringing the first men to the
moon in 1969, or the discovery of the Watergate Tape recordings on this
day in 1973. She might even have timed her disappearance to the 16th
anniversary of Ronald Reagan's nomination for president in 1980 or the
sefirst men to the moon in 1969, or the discovery of the Watergate Tape
recordings on this day in 1973. She might even have timed her
disappearance to the 16th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's nomination for
president in 1980 or th
Most likely, Sue timed her disappearance to Michael Alexander's, who had
actually set his vanishing act for the anniversary of Bastille Day, July
14, but screwed it up when his wife caught him collecting some of this
things on Monday, July 15.
Sue has always copied other people's ideas, and rushed to do things
other people intended before they could. In this case, she must have
been in a truly emotional state, putting together the last of her plans
within two or three days of her vanishing.
Sue thought she deserved to get published. She saw her freelance work
for Screw Magazine as beneath her, even though she stole many of the
ideas she published there for other writers.
Why couldn't people recognize her talent as a writer? Why did she need
to struggle so hard when she obviously warranted better treatment?
Of course, some people thought her cruel, too, because she knew how to
manipulate some of the odds in her favor. What was wrong with that? Why
should she have to justify every little thing in her life?
One of the great ironies in the Susan Walsh Story is the fact that as
much of a manipulator as she was, and as hard as she tried to get over
on people, she largely wound up with little or nothing to show for it.
Yes, she got to drive around in Al Goldstein's limo, strutting her stuff
as if she was actually someone of importance? Yes, she got to see her
bi-line in one of the formerly most prestigious publications in the
country. But in the end, Al Goldstein told her to get lost and Ridgeway
took her work as if just one more of his lackeys, and she found herself
without money, without importance, without even any body to love her.
When Sue first hooked up with Ridgeway, she fully believed she had
finally found the sucker she needed to bring herself recognition,
someone who she could use in her climb to the top. She called numerous
of her friends to tell them the good news. And when he co-authored
stories with her on the Russian Mafia' infiltration of the go-go scene,
she was convinced she had him in her pocket. He even pointed her in the
right direction for documentary films. She believed up until very late
that her name would appear on the cover of "Redlight" and she would be
able to publish her other work as a result.
And perhaps she suspected the truth -- even knew what would happen when
the book came out. Perhaps she had pressured him during the year before
to give her some guarantees. Ridgeway in his interview with Joel Lewis
denied making such promises. He said he never pushed her into danger or
insisted that she continue her dancing. She was a researcher that was
all, and while he admired her talents, he claimed never to promise her
anything more than what she got.
She thought otherwise.
So the credit she did get inside the book must have seemed like an
insult, and part of the pattern of conspiracy she feared all her life,
Ridgeway just one more mean man who used her and then threw her away,
like her mother's boyfriend who raped her at three, leaving her to fend
for herself, leaving her without money, position or dignity.
If she wasn't manic before the book came out, she certainly was
afterward, trying to balance her outrage with her desire to salvage
something from the ruins of her life. She thought the vampire thing
would fly. It didn't. She thought she could get the book publishers to
take an interest in the danger she was in. They didn't. Now she had to
do something dramatic, something that would prove those publishers
wrong, that would create such headlines that everybody in the country
would know her name and want her to publish her story.
Although she had planted seeds for this for months, the situation didn't
come together until about two weeks before she actually committed
herself to it. Michael Alexander's disappearance was already set. He was
even planning one last poetry reading for two days before his own
scheduled vanishing, something by which he could shed his old life and
take on his new one. For he was nactually committed herself to it.
Michael Alexander's disappearance wa
She wanted to be the one who initiated the disappearance first, and she
more of less thought he was stealing her thunder. She might even have
accused him of as much when she talked to him the week before her
leaving, asking, maybe even pleading with him to delay his vanishing
until she could get away with hers. But he was too pent up, and wouldn't
Ridgeway, Michael Alexander, Al Goldstein, Ray Zachmann, Rob Hardin,
Joel Lewis, even Glen Kenny had all let her down, and she was pissed.
While Ridgeway and Hardin tried to sell the press on the idea that Sue
became unhinged because of Xanax and alcohol. I think she became
unhinged because of rage.
She was so angry and so desperate she could hardly think straight, and
was forced to delay her plans for days, maybe even a week, while Michael
pranced around with his new Internet lover. Why should she wait? What
did it gain her?
Sometime in the last week before her vanishing, Sue made contact with a
Newark pimp named Malik, someone then operating out of the projects just
off Broadway, a place so dangerous that most women, white or black,
wouldn't walk there during the day, and no one, not even the cops went
there at night.
Although she was with Melissa the Friday before her vanishing, she went
off someplace over the weekend, and neighbors saw her returning on
Sunday in a Newark cab, something she did rarely, and never when she
wasn't scheduled to dance in one of the clubs in Newark. She usually
didn't have enough money to spend on a cab, sometimes having to give
back half her tips to the manager of the dance club for the privilege of
having danced. On most nights, she relied on friends to drive her to the
gig and men she picked up there to drive her home.
In this case, she needed to keep her one set of friends from knowing
about Malik or the world into which she intended to flee. She may have
used Ray Zachmann to help her make the connection, but she had kept her
contact with Zachmann and Michael secret from almost everyone of her
friends, even those like Glenn Kenny, who she came closest to loving.
She must have gone crazy waiting for Michael to make his move. Michael
was supposed to pretend to go off to work on Saturday, July 13, and then
flee. He apparently left on Saturday, stayed away from his wife all day
Sunday, then stupidly thought his wife would continue to go to work so
that he could sneak into his house and gather his things on Monday.
On that Monday, Sue struggled to keep herself busy, and visible, but was
apparently agitated, even as she sunned herself at the side of her
landlord's swimming pool, waiting out the hours to the time when she
could meet Malik and flee, too.
Then: "On July 16, 1996 Susan Walsh hurriedly dropped her son, David,
off with her estranged husband. She never said exactly where she was
going, but did claim she'd be back within a few minutes. But that
morning, 36-year-old Susan Walsh disappeared into the streets of Nutley,
New Jersey, only a brief commuter train trip from Manhattan. What
happened to Susan Walsh? " said Unsolved Mysteries.