Links to a.d.sullivan & info on Susan Walsh
I met O'Keefe at his office in Bloomfield. He looked cheerful, though
determined. "You set to go take a look?" he asked.
I nodded, but was not so certain. I had driven in Newark numerous times,
but always in a rush to get from one end to the other. I"d gone there in
search of Sue once or twice. But now, O'Keefe intended to take me where
the danger was, where the prostitutes did business, where the drug
dealers set up their supermarket for white suburban kids to shop. And
where Sue had been sighted several times.
"We're going to a dangerous place," O'Keefe said.
Which is why I wanted to do it during the day, to see the battle ground
where most people were too wise to wander, and tough cops from Newark
and Belleville mounted guard. We drove through the edge of Belleville,
O'Keefe advising me on the Belleville police.
"They see your face pass here more than once, they'll be on your tail.
They don't fool around. They'll pull you over and find out what you're
about," he said. "Don't turn around here. Just come through and keep
Belleville cops had a reputation for being tough, hound dogs who didn't
let anyone mess with their town. I had heard of pursuits that had lasted
hours. In one case, the Belleville cop's car broke down in Nutley, he
jumped out, dragged a cop out of a Nutley cop car and continued his
pursuit. Talk also circulated about fire fights, where Belleville cops
brought down their target with grim precision. Rumors said detectives
from Belleville even floated over the border into Newark, setting up a
free fire zone where they could anticipate trouble advancing on their
"It's like night and day," O'Keefe said. "You go across the Belleville
border into Newark and you're in another world."
The change didn't show until we reached Broadway and turned away from
Newark. It was Sunday, just after noon, and the prostitutes showed along
the side walk, some scanky with open sores, some dressed in tight sexy
clothing, while others, in-between these two extremes, clung to street
side public telephones, looking at us as we passed. Nearby, we saw the
outriders of drug salesmen, hard-faced young men of 15, 16, 17 and 18,
who kept lookout for police, hands stuffed into their pockets in
anticipation of trouble. Some streets, O'Keefe said, he wouldn't even
drive down during daylight hours. People had gotten shot on some. One
white kid was found dead in his car with a bullet through his face.
O'Keefe himself had asked questions of the prostitutes and found a pack
of drug dealers descending on his car.
But this is the world where Sue was spotted. One sitting along a back
street block where a new club had opened. Danger waited in every
driveway and behind every car, frightful, uncontrollable purveyors of
fear, selling sex and narcotic dreams, selling death, too, if you looked
suspicious. Drug dens operating out in the open because many of the
police feared the battle an arrest would bring. And for what? Most of
those they'd bust would be out on the street in an hour, a juvenile
under the age of serious prosecution, fronting for someone higher up in
age and organization.
The whole thing terrified me even in daylight, as the outriders watched
us and knew we didn't belong, fingering their pistols, waiting for us to
stop or make a sudden move.
"Some streets we won't even drive on," O'Keefe said, steering the car
around as we circled the same area and eased up those streets where we
might get a glimpse of Sue -- though most likely Sue wasn't working the
street the way Melissa believed, but was pulling some hustle in one of
the clubs. For the first time, I understood the problem with finding
Sue. We were wandering through an urban jungle, a desolate land where a
person like Sue could walk without anyone daring to ask her what she was
doing, where drug dealers and prostitutes and people of violence had
turned the world upside down, the rules for survival here utterly
different from those a block the other side of the town boundary.
You needed guides here, and guards, and people who knew people who they
could trust. Without them, we were potential targets for someone
shooting practice, just two more strangers with white faces who wanted
to know too much.
"There!" O'Keefe said, pointing to the side of the road. "Someone saw
But she was not there now, nor did we see anyone that even remotely
looked like her. And if she wanted to, she could stay hidden here,
undetected except for occasional sightings, and we could do nothing
In the Aug 18 article in the Bergen Record, Floyd speculated on the
possible ways Sue might have disguised herself such as dying her hair.
He has wandered the streets of Newark in an attempt to get a glimpse of
her. On one night, he found himself roaming around these dangerous
streets after midnight. He kept his beeper with him, something he picked
up specifically in order not to be out of touch -- just in case word
comes about his daughter, just in case she may need to reach him, this
despite the fact that he has an answering machine at his Hunterton
County home. He wanted information as soon as possible.
"Sometimes I have to close my mind to the pain she might be living
through," he said. "What a hellish thing."
Fine's story then centered on the question of how a child from a middle
class world like Wayne could find her way to the lowest, scankiest, most
dismal parts of the under world. Floyd and Martha divorced early in
Sue's life, a fact that Martha didn't want brought up, "brisles when the
subject is raised."
"What does that have to do with anything?" Martha asked, preferring to
focus on her daughter's addictive personality, blaming it for most of
But Joel Lewis' interviews found a clear connection between Sue's warped
sense of sex and her upbringing -- at least, Sue told several of her
boyfriends when she was younger that one of Martha's later husbands or
boyfriends raped Sue as a child.
"From every indication it seems something happened," Joel told me.
This act early in her life set the pattern for Sue's behavior for the
rest of her life, making her feel like "a small bony bird" who "trailed
unfriendly streets" driven by an "insidious uncontrollable energy." She
could not beat back the man who raped her, but learned that by giving
into it, and pretending that she enjoyed it, she could survive "the
machine gun fire of their eyes." As with most child abuse cases, the
mother often knows, but is in denial. Conflicts between Martha and Sue
probably grew out of this denial, Martha shaping that first rape into
Sue's seduction, and over time, Martha -- in expecting this behavior,
shaped Sue into exactly that, a woman capable of seducing anybody's man,
pushed into that as a means of control and survival.
The Record story went on, talking about how Sue openly discussed on TV
and radio the subject of her sleazy profession and how she found it
exploitative, but couldn't make herself quit.
"She thought it was just men and women destroying each other," Walker
At this point, I come into the story again. While Martha claimed Sue
"came into her own at William Paterson College" (now a University), Sue
actually expanded on the themes of stalking, sexuality and paranoia
there. I told Fine that Sue had the habit of disappearing for days if
she angered someone. I also told her that Sue told stories about
stalking then, including a story about a CIA agent.
"It may have been paranoia. It may have been a game she was playing," I
said. "It was part of Sue. She had a very vivid imagination."
Fine said Sue graduated in 1984, entered rehab, and married Mark Walsh.,
a man who was a house painter and musician at the time. His brother was
Joe Walsh, formerly of the Eagles.
"It was an eventful period marked by the contradictions that were
Susan," Fine wrote. "She wrote articles for resectable technical
journals and for sex magazine such as Screw. She talked about wanting a
literary career, but she began dancing in go-go clubs in her early 20s
-- once inviting Sullivan and other class-mates to a sex show on
Manhattan's 42nd Street."
This last part was license of Fine's part. Someone else invited me to
tag along, Sue never sent me a formal invitation the way she did Glen
Kenny and others. (Glen Kenny still have the invitation, or so he told
Joel Lewis.) Fine went on to say that Sue's marriage to Mark ended
shortly after the birth of their son, David. Mark refused to comment to
Fine, citing concern for their son, who was in his care.
"Friends say that in recent months, Walsh's life had become a seesaw of
highs and lows," Fine wrote. "Freelance writing for Screw had led to
assignments for the Village voice, including a quasi-expose about the
influx of Russian dancers into the New Jersey go-go market."
As I have suggested earlier in these pages, Sue used other writers for
many of her successes. Some of her best work for Screw Magazine, she
lifted from her boyfriend, Hardin. She seemed to keep a stable of
writers and publishers around her for that very purpose, taking from
them what she could extract. The great surprise may have been the fact
that she came up with this Russian Dancer angle by herself. But in
truth, she may have lifted that, too. At one point during the summer of
1994, she was interview by Anthony DeStefano, a staff writer for Long
Island News day. He was doing a story on the influx of Russian Dancers
in local go-go clubs. Sue was quoted for the story as "a writer and
sometime go-go dancer, who has studied the Russian dancers."
Did Sue get her idea from DeStefano, rushing Ridgeway into publications
to scoop News day? Was Ridgeway aware of the theft when he gave Sue
credit as the co-author of the Voice article? The project certainly
propelled him into using her "researching skills" for his next project,
While Fine said the book contained excerpts of Sue's writing, in truth,
Ridgeway seemed to have lifted massive blocks of text from Sue's sex
journals. Credited and uncredited sections of "Redlight," repeat Sue's
previous diatribes about her early infatuation with dancing"
"The men's smiles were my payment; the dollar bills they stuffed between
my breasts were just extras," Sue wrote. "I was a dancer, and they liked
Fine said Sue concluded with the jaded assessment of a veteran in "the
dirtiest battles known to humanity."
Fine said Ridgeway was impressed enough by Sue's reporting to introduce
her to radio and television colleagues, with the side benefit of
promoting his own book sales later. Sue was apparently working on two or
three film documentaries at the time she disappeared.
"Ever since `Redlight' came out she felt better about her career,"
Melissa told Fine. "She thought it was really starting to take off."
According to Fine, Sue began to drink again around this time and
increased her intake of Xanax. She lost weight, suffered from a chronic
fever, sore throat and cough. She complained about being stalked by
ex-boyfriends, CIA agents and members of the Russian mob.
Melissa called Sue the most paranoid person she knew.
Goldstein told Fine he'd had an "on again off again" relationship with
Sue, "Four years of craziness." Hardin claimed Goldstein paid Sue for
her sexual services. Goldstein said he recalled a time when Screw's
managing editor, Manny Neuhaus told Sue: "You're filled with such rage.
Get out of the business."
Goldstein said she couldn't, then according to Fine, he corrected
himself, "I should say, didn't. I don't know why."