The Herald strikes again

Links to a.d.sullivan & info on Susan Walsh

 

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In his opening, Florida called Sue an "erotic dancer" as well as a

writer, someone who had vanished into a "web of speculation."

 

"The television networks have aired stories about her, the New York

tabloids have written about her, and the police are searching for her,"

Florida wrote. "But so far, according to interviews with her friends and

colleagues, only one thing is sure: in recent months, Walsh was heading

for a fall."

 

"She was descending," Al Goldstein told Florida. "I would try to help

her, but you can't save a drowning woman who doesn't want to be saved."

 

According to Florida's story, Sue began writing feature articles and

film reviews for Goldstein's Screw Magazine in 1991. Other sources said

she'd been writing these since high school. Goldstein met Sue at an S &

M club where he was "trying to find diversion from a bad marriage." He

and Sue dated for about four years, and ended in mid-June.

 

"She was boozing again, we had a falling out and I told her, `Susan, I

don't trust you," Goldstein said, noting that when he first heard she'd

gone, he was sure she was dead. Now, he says, he isn't sure.

 

"She had become very paranoid," Goldstein said. "And what do paranoids

do? They hid. And if she was murdered, they'd have a body."

 

In its retrospective of Sue's work published later that month in Screw,

an editorial said: "There is some speculation that Walsh's disappearance

is a hoax. Even Al Goldstein, who once believed that chances of foul

play were height, later gave more credence to this theory."

 

Goldstein, in his interview with Florida, called Sue a talented writer,

"but too unstable" to work as a staff writer. He claimed her stories

about the ext industry were filled with anger, passion and outrage.

 

"She talked about stabbing the men in the eyes," Goldstein said. "Her

words scared me. And she constantly complained about being stalked. She

illuminated her life by the dangers that surrounded it. She was a drama

queen."

 

Florida managed to track town Sue's ex-boyfriend of whom almost everyone

lived in terror, a testament to Sue's story-telling ability. Billy

Walker was thirty years old at the time of the interview, six years

Sue's junior, who worked for Goldstein as a clerical assistant

(according to another source as a copy editor). He told Florida he did

not know what happened to Sue, though acknowledged that he and she had

had "a bitter disagreement" in May, resulting in her having an order of

protection filed against him. Since then, however, he said he hadn't

seen her. Despite the fact that he was named as the number one suspect

by Melissa, he was only then, nearly a month after Sue's vanishing,

being interviewed by the police.

 

Walker said he met Sue in January 1994, at the Pubway, a Newark go-go

bar he managed. She was dancing; he was managing the place. She told him

she hated dancing, but only did it to support her son. She was making

about $100 to $150 a night then. Walker lived with Sue for about a year

and had left in November, 1995. He described Sue as "an intelligent

woman with a hard edge."

 

He said she was addicted to Xanax, an anti-depressant prescribed by her

therapist. He did not say who this therapist was. Neighbors told me the

prescription came from Noonan, a local foot doctor. Walker also said Sue

had started drinking again, after 11 years of sobriety, but he refused

to believe she would kill herself, claiming -- as almost everyone

claimed -- that she was too devoted to her son.

 

Florida went on to describe the working class nature of the neighborhood

where Sue lived, and how she lived in the first floor one-bedroom

apartment for six years. She lived with her 21-year-old Goth boyfriend,

Christian at the time of her vanishing. He had met Sue during her

aborted attempt to write a Village Voice story on the vampire scene.

 

Christian fled with days, saying he could not handle the fear that he

might be next. Christian seemed to believe Walker was the man

responsible for all those late night calls. Christian told Florida that

he and Sue lived in the consman responsible for all those late night

calls. Christian told Florida that he and Sue lived in the constant

shadow of stalkers and that at one point a stal

 

"She was my first girlfriend, she was my only girlfriend," he said.

"Having her gone is both horrifying and terrifying."

 

 

Downstairs from Sue lived her estranged husband Mark, who shared

responsibilities for Sue's son, David. Except for a few early statements

just after Sue s disappearance, Mark Walsh declined to speak with the

press. He seemed frightened, but not in the same way Sue s most frequent

boyfriend Christian did. Mark did not seem to believe in Sue s stalking

paranoia, or put much credence in her stories of the mafia, the CIA or

the Russians. Like most of us, he d probably heard them so often and for

so long that he grew bored. No, Mark seemed to be afraid of the police.

While he told Floyd he feared the consequences of Sue s disappearance on

his son, David -- claiming the town might seek to remove the

now-12-year-old boy from special classes at the local school, Mark was

unclear as to why.

 

Mark s fear seems unreasonable, since the national attention brought to

Sue s case, would make the city father s look terribly inhuman if they

chose to punish David just because his mother disappeared. Even the fact

that she was a go go dancer did not justify such an action. Many of the

city fathers were well aware of this aspect of Sue s life. Indeed, she

was connected with several of the more important people in town, from

the publisher of the local newspaper, the Nutley Sun, to members of the

police force and town council.

 

Although moody, Mark did not display the same paranoia as some of Sue s

other boyfriends, which leads me to suspect, he may have feared

something very real. Perhaps, Mark knew nearly from the beginning that

Sue intended her disappearance as a hoax, and for this reason, feared

retribution from local authorities. He certainly expressed his distaste

for the whole scene only days after Sue vanished, telling his best

friend that he wished the press would go away. Over and over again,

Melissa and Sue s mother, Martha claimed Sue would never leave her son,

David, behind without keeping in contact. If this is true, if Sue

maintained her contact with David, via Mark, all during the time when he

name was splashed across the front pages of newspapers throughout New

Jersey, then Mark may indeed have something to fear -- since knowing

this was a hoax and not telling the authorities, would be a crime.

 

Mark s love of David would have kept him silent. He did not want to hurt

David by bad-mouthing the boy s mother. Although Mark married Sue, and

in his small way, helped Sue to straighten out her life, he seemed cold

and dispassionate at her disappearance, as if he could care less about

whether or not she would return. But even earlier on,

 

When I met him in 1985, Mark Walsh showed no inclination of outward

affection towards Sue, and all his statements seemed to focus on his

love of David, not his care of Sue. When approached for comment, he said

he did not want to upset David with idle speculation about Sue s fate.

He did not tell the press that he and Sue had fought over David only

three weeks before her vanishing, that she had threatened to take Sue

away to Florida where he could not see the boy. Nor did he say this was

not the first time she had threatened take David away. One neighbor said

Mark had slammed the door in her face, saying he couldn't deal with the

situation any more.

 

"You ve got to stop this!" he protested over the attention Sue s case

was bringing.

 

"I don t think he wants her found," this neighbor said.

 

Mark met Sue at a Pennsylvania rehabilitation center, after her Haledon

arrest. This was part of a plea bargain that kept her from being charged

with assault on a police officer and resisting arrest. At about this

time, Floyd came back into her life as an active influence, trying --

apparently honestly -- to help make up for the damage his and Martha s

divorce had had on Sue. Despite Marfrom being charged with assault on a

police officer and resisting arrest. At about this time, Floyd came back

into her life as an active influence, trying -- apparently honestly --

to help make up for the damage his and Martha s divorce had had on Sue.

Despite Martha s moaning and groaning after Sue s July, 1996

disappearance, family ti

 

"I don t know for sure," said one close friend who used to visit the

house in Wayne frequently. "But I know Sue would find them hard to

resist."

 

Even Sue s grandmother, who Sue used to borrow money from against her

inheritance, asked Sue to leave when Sue lived there -- though no one

could explain why.

 

Sue told friends that Mark suffered from manic-depression (or bipolar

disease as it is now called), something her family claimed she also

suffered.

 

And though Sue threatened to take David to Florida within a few weeks of

her vanishing, she allegedly threatened to take David to other places

previously.

 

"She was always talking about taking David away from Mark," one of Sue s

more recent friends said. "She was constantly threatening to take David

somewhere where Mark wouldn't be able to see him."

 

The upstairs neighbor thought Mark was plotting against Sue, and claimed

the police initially suspected Mark of doing away with Sue to keep

David.

 

Others suggested he had some perverse secret, some reason other than

David, to explain why he lived so near to Sue for over a decade after

their breakup. Indeed, he showed little or no remorse after her

vanishing. Yet others suspect he became entangled in one of Sue s plots,

perhaps even taking a part in a publicity stunt that would help bring

her fame and fortune in promoting the book "Redlight" -- something that

was expected to come about when Sue's story went national after an

airing of "Unsolved Mysteries."

 

More likely, Mark was frustrated, forced into silence about the

publicity stunt by yet one more threat of Sue s taking David away. While

Mark may have known about the plot, he may have consented only to

remaining silent -- something he had maintained almost from the moment

of vanishing. But he did relay information to Floyd, explaining his fear

for David by blaming the police. Mark told Floyd that he feared the town

would remove David from the special classes Sue fought to get for the

boy.

 

Yet Mark s expressed fears to Floyd lack credibility. He manufactured

his silence from the beginning, suggesting he knew more from the start

about Sue s vanishing than he let on. His irritable mood also suggests

that he disapproved, and was overheard more than once expressing his

distaste for the whole ugly situation. He did not want the newspapers to

print anything. He did not want police to investigate. He wanted only

life to go on quietly as it had in the past, struggling perhaps to

maintain a normal life for his son, who was already apparently damaged

by his mother s life style. This search for normalcy may explain why

within the month,more from the start about Sue s vanishing than he let

on. His irritable mood also suggests that he disapproved, and was

overheard more than once expressing his distaste for

 

But if she was connected with someone important on the local political

scene, it is feasible to envision that someone getting nervous when she

suddenly up and disappeared, perhaps fearing a scandal. Perhaps that

local official had connections with local mobsters, who grew more and

more apprehensive about Sue s story of gangsters, strip clubs and the

Russian Mafia. Russian dancers were in many of the go go clubs in the

area. It is also conceivable that this local official might have hauled

Mark in, telling him to tell Sue to quit the shit, telling Mark to tell

Sue she d better not come back. And, to make his point with Mark, this

local official may also have threatened to take out his wrath on Sue s

kid.

 

Rob Hardin, who was close to Sue's family, called Mark "an unmedicated

manic depressive."

 

"I'm not making this up: it's a medical fact about both Susan and Mark

Walsh," Hardin said.

 

 

My part of Florida's story came near the end. He got the information

about our relationship right, but then went onto misrepresent what I

said, claiming I said "Walsh had a flair for the dramatic." While I did

say she complained frequently of stalkers, I never said she "craved the

attention of men," or that she "saw herself as a frail creature

encompassed by dangers."

 

I might say these things now that I know more about her, but I didn't at

the time. I didn't know enough to say that much. I still hoped she was

faking it, but feared she might not be and was dead in a ditch. Then,

Florida actually misquoted me.

 

"She was really into alcohol," Sullivan said. "Then she went to rehab

and came out well. She was sober for many years, and had renewed

drinking recently, which explains a lot. At first, I thought her

disappearance might be a publicity gag for her new book. But the more it

goes on the less likely that seems."

 

To correct the record, I said none of that.

 

Florida also interviewed Sue's mother again, who said the police had a

four-man team searching for Sue.

 

"But so far, nothing's turned up," she said, noting that the detectives

themselves believe Sue is alive. And so does she.

The Psychics take the stage

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