Tale of Two Sues
Weissman apparently frequented the series of strip joints in New York
City where Melissa and Sue had both worked in the past, a string of
clubs owned by the same group of investors that provided entertainment
for business people from midtown to Wall Street, thriving on lunch
parties and happy hour crowds, though the meat of their business was
still the late night drunks.
While in one or two of these, Weissman met a woman named Holly (This
name changed several times in the course of his tale) to whom he talked
often, and over the last few months, frequently about what went on in
the search for Sue. This dancer did not resemble the photographs in
"Redlight" but she expressed interest in all the reports and requested
copies of all the newspaper and Internet reports, stirring Weissman's
suspicions about her.
"Was she upset about what she read?" I asked.
"She didn't seem to like what you've been writing about her," Weissman
I was more than a little skeptical about Weissman's claims, especially
after we had apparently come so close in Newark. He seemed to be
deliberately pointing in a direction no one had considered before, in a
direction where Sue had spent so much time few could see her going back
without being sighted. And yet, the only report we had to date of Sue
hanging around the New York bar scene was Weissman's.
Yet his report had a perverse logic behind it. Despite's Sue's paranoia
and her love of intrigue, she was too much of a party girl to give up
the night life completely -- even if her bible by Abbie Hoffman
suggested she should. She needed to be the center of attention on some
level. I could easily envision her doing her seductive dance in a New
York City club, while her family and friends went crazy with grief,
thinking her dead or worse in New Jersey.
Even the name had some importance. At school, one her dearest friends
was named Holly, someone close enough for Sue to use her as a persona,
not so much a friend, but one of the many targets Sue took aim at in
college. When Holly broke up with her husband, Sue showed up at the
husband's door, giving him all-night comfort he later denied.
But Weissman -- inspired most likely by the real Sue's whispering in his
ear -- claimed he had also met another dancer, one who looked remarkably
similar to the photographs of Sue currently being posted on windows and
printed in newspaper, and as ironically, she, too, danced under the name
of Holly -- or so he thought.
Weissman came to call them Holly A and Holly B, and neither he nor I was
able to keep them straight, confusing which girl danced in which club,
and which looked like the photographs and which did not.
He had apparently raised the same suggestion with Melissa over the
telephone, leading to her thinking him crazy, a double vision that
didn't make sense to her when she thought she had found Sue in Newark
living with the street hooker Judy. She seemed to think Weissman's
information a ruse or the rantings of a lunatic. Sitting across the
table from Weissman in the Secaucus Library, I wondered whether to run
like hell for fear of him producing a pistol or call the local EMT to
have him hauled to the nearest mental ward.
Melissa was also disturbed by his dragging out the names of clubs she
had worked for extensively, for which she had done extensive photo
shoots, and possibly much, much more. And the more Weissman pressed to
meet her and bring her to several of these clubs for a positive
identification, the more she resisted, saying she couldn't go back
"I’m trying to quit dancing," she told me over the telephone later when
I made the same request "I have a baby now. I can't afford to get mixed
up with those people again. I don’t want to get tempted back into that
scene. It’s bad for me.”
She also expressed great fear of Weissman.
"He says he talks to her, and says she goes under the name Holly A,
which is why he sounds so crazy. He says there’s a girl that looks just
like her that dances under the name Holly B. That's crazy, too."
When I continued to press Weissman for answers, his face grew flushed
and his gaze grew frantic. He became evasive, perhaps confused, and said
he felt a great danger faced Sue and that we needed to hurry and find
her. He told us that he had followed one of the Holly's uptown into the
Washington Heights section of New York, before losing her. He had also
apparently waited outside one of the clubs for the other Holly to get
off duty, but before he could approach her, she slipped into a cab and
"Towards the Village," he told us.
We sat with Weissman for hours, going around and around in his head. He
seemed determined to debunk everything that had been said or written
about Sue’s disappearance, even disputing the photographs used in
various newspaper articles, particularly those taken from Ridgeway’s Red
Light. Like Floyd, Weissman had little good to say about Rob Hardin, who
he had apparently met with Hardin at one point during the investigation,
and perhaps followed the man after their meeting. Weissman claimed
Hardin was into mutilations and often went to private clubs near St.
Marks, where videos of this kind could be purchased. Something Hardin
later disputed, though Joel and others suggested Hardin was relentless
in his pursuit of such subjects on the internet, often dragging the
poetry group to which he and Joel belong into unacceptable areas of
Melissa said Weissman had often talked negatively about Hardin,
confirming many of her own beliefs about Hardin’s relationship to Sue.
She claimed Hardin beat Sue -- something Hardin later denied, claiming
he and Sue had engaged in private sessions of S&M. He also disclaimed
any interest in mutilations, offering his various web addresses as
proof. Weissman, however, said many of the pages from which he
relationship to Sue. She claimed Hardin beat Sue -- something Hardin
later denied, claiming he and Sue had engaged in private sessions of
S&M. He also disclaimed any interest in mutilations, offerin
Was Weissman suggesting Hardin had engineered Sue's vanishing, part of
some private plot that would have fit in with Melissa's ideas of
kidnapping and rape?
It all had the familiar ring of stories I had heard in college, where
friends and acquaintances of Sue, attacked each other, based upon lies
Sue had manufactured for them, a chaos of misbehavior that had Sue's
signature all over it -- this person telling stories about that person,
that person telling stories about another, and that other telling
stories about still another, in a long chain of miscommunication, all
started by the apparently innocent Sue.
This Sue, the only person in the chain who knew the truth, who could
control everyone else by keeping them off guard, part of that Abbie
Hoffman arrogance she so aptly displayed in the past. If no one knew
what was actually going on, no one would uncover any of her plots.
"She likes keeping people in the dark," said one old friend from school,
while another said, "She sets people against each other so that she
becomes a focal point. She is the arbitrator, she is the source of
information, without her, the universe stops."
During the whole meeting with Weissman in the Secaucus Library, I kept
getting dubious looks from O'Keefe, who later told me he feared
Weissman's access to important people, noting that even close friends
and relatives of Sue could not reach many of the people Weissman saw
easily. Many of these important people in the investigation seemed to
talk openly with Weissman when they would not with reporters and family.
Not that Weissman was in league with the police. When he talked with
Nutley’s chief investigator, Gus Ramano, Weissman felt he was being lied
"They were giving me the kiss off," Weissman told me. "They said they
would love to have evidence that would take this case out of the hands
of the Essex Country homicide unit, and that they would love to find her
and get her some help with a social worker. But when I asked them why
they’d needed a search warrant to get into Sue’s apartment, they
wouldn’t tell me. Was there anything out of the ordinary about this
case? Did she have a phone or not? Was she alive or dead?"
O'Keefe, however, disclaimed any double-dealing by Ramano.
"He's a straight arrow," O'Keefe said later. "He's perhaps the one
person in this whole case I trust most. He might be getting political
pressure from somewhere, but he wouldn't listen to it."
Weissman pressed on claiming the Nutley police's investigation was "The
legacy of a hoax." But he couldn't say whose Hoax. He kept saying the
Nutley police had given up, yet wouldn't say why.
"If there have been sightings like I'm saying there are, why aren’t the
police pursuing the leads, rather than asking a psychic?"
Weissman said he went to LA and checked with the LAPD, asking for
details about Sue as a missing person. They checked the wire. No report
was issued. She is not in the system and never was.
"That’s when I saw a red flag," he said. Then, later, he had to go to
Washington, D.C., where he had the metro police run the missing person’s
report. "They said it is not in the system, never was."
When he came back to NJ, he talked to the police again in Nutley, who
said it was filed.
"Someone had to be lying," he said.
In later press reports -- especially after the two broadcasts of the
case on NBC's Unsolved Mysteries, the Nutley police said the report was
in the system nationally.
Weissman also said he didn't believe tales of Sue's walking around in a
fugue. While Melissa and Hardin, and maybe Martha Young insisted Sue
needed lithium, Weissman suspected Sue was walking around perfectly
lucid, if not in New York City -- where he believes he saw her, then
some place else.
But why? What did she hope to gain from all this?
Weissman had no idea. He said he had talked to the police in Manhattan,
who told him, sure she could be walking around, but they’re not going to
pick her up, not when the Nutley police seem to not be interested.
Was there a plot? Were there people seeking her out. Weissman believed
there was, not the Russian Mafia so much as groups from the former
soviet Georgia or Lithuania. He believed she was running scared and that
this whole missing angle was a set up. He said he was knocked down in a
subway when he was looking for her in New York. Someone tried to steal
is luggage after he asked questions about her in LA. And he has met one
woman in New York who offered to talk about Sue, agreeing even to come
to his hotel room.
Weissman said that he was pursued by postal inspectors when he stayed in
a motel in Secaucus and that -- despite Floyd’s claim and claims by the
FBI's official spokesperson -- the FBI was monitoring the situation.
"I think they are, too," said O'Keefe later. "But I think it is because
they would like an excuse to step into the case, and can't find one."
Like Melissa, I, at first, thought Weissman out of his mind, but the
paranoia fit too well with Sue’s old stories, and the more I thought
about it, the more I was convinced Weissman was talking to the Sue, but
not in the way he said he was. In fact, I began to suspect that the only
people Sue was not talking to (calling up secretly in the middle of the
night in a panic to beg for help) were me and O'Keefe.
Weissman seemed to be doing Sue’s bidding in more than one way. He
didn’t just distract the investigation by sending people searching for
Sue in the impossibly complicated club scene of Manhattan, but he also
started sniffing around, finding out what other people knew, or hounding
those people Sue would have considered enemies. He kept asking questions
which only Sue had answers, seeming to come to conclusions of his own.
"How did Sue get her start with Ridgeway?" he asked me, and when I
couldn’t come up with an answer, he said: "The same way she did with Al
Goldstien. You know. It’s the old routine called the casting couch."
Weissman, in interpreting the information gleaned from the psychic
Dorothy Allison, suggested Sue was staying Donald Trump’s Palace Hotel.
Another sours told me the "Palace" to which Allison alluded was likely
the nick name of the brothel in which Sue was hiding. She might have
even continued to dance and live in the brothel above the Palace club in
And Weissman showed no favoritism, he investigated everyone connected
with Sue, and no one was immune. He claimed to have traced Rob Hardin to
a publication company called Cardinal Graphics, Inc., which apparently
specialized in a very violent form of pornography, with Hardin allegedly
interested in the mutilation of women. But Hardin and Ridgeway were only
two of Weissman's victims. He sought out each and every name mentioned
in any of the articles and grilled these people about their relationship
to Sue. But Mr.have traced Rob Hardin to a publication company called
Cardinal Graphics, Inc., whi
But the one issue still needed to be resolved. Someone had to go to New
York City, had to go to some of the dance clubs and had to determine
whether or not either of the dancers Weissman talked to were actually
O’Keefe and I elected ourselves.