Everybody's in Show Biz
By the end of October, 1996, people now breathlessly anticipated the
arrival of the Unsolved Mysteries camera crew. This dominated people
more than concern about Sue. By this time, I was deeply in trenched in
the case, subject to personal attack for my opinion. O'Keefe introduced
me to those of the local population who had not followed the case on my
internet web page.
"A fellow reporter in Secaucus has a person interest in the case of the
missing Nutley woman, Susan Walsh," O'Keefe wrote. "The supposedly
interested parties are ignoring him."
The editorial was partly due to a letter to the editor of his paper I
wrote, which he'd published the week before, outlining the theory that
Sue's vanishing was utterly intentional. While I had said as much
earlier, quotes in other publications always downplayed it. For the
first time, I said as much in print.
"This newspaper observed from the beginning how the Walsh disappearance
was handled as if it were her own fault. It may well be if she chose to
leave," O'Keefe wrote. "Many news reports in the local area emphasize
how the woman was a go-go dancer, had alcohol and drug problems and had
fringe involvement with the so-called gothic cults. The important
information-- height, weight, age, last seen at and such -- was
relegated to the end of long articles that gloried in vampires, psychics
and such nonsense."
Again, O'Keefe pressed the police for more information, and criticized
the other papers for covering Sue's disappearance as "Science Fiction,"
with "Unsolved Mysteries coming to town to do a story on local
psychics,, using the tragedy as a soapbox. This is doing nothing but
ensuring that the case will not be solved."
O'Keefe then took note of my investigation on the web, and how Unsolved
Mysteries had declined further contact after my telling them over the
telephone I thought Sue's vanishing was a fake.
"They said they would get back to him later and have not so far," wrote
O'Keefe, suggesting that the program did not want to deviate from the
"psychics and Ouija board style of investigation" in which it was
"The official position, however, remains that she is `missing' and a
possible homicide," O'Keefe wrote. "Until the proper people get their 15
minutes of fame on the tabloid television show, do not expect this
situation to change."
O'Keefe also noted that one "very good source" claimed Sue had been
keeping abreast of all the coverage, making somebody else part of this
"Sullivan noted in his letter that Walsh was drawn to people of power
and experience wherever she went," O'Keefe wrote, encouraging people to
look at the web account of her past behavior.
"She was known to habitually spin yarns that caused confusion among
acquaintances and served to make herself the center of attention," he
wrote. "She would drop vague hints about knowing people in the CIA,
which matched the vampire cult reports very well... In every case this
writer has found the cult-tales came from people who likely had access
to Walsh after her disappearance. One source mentioned how she was
dropping vague stories about the Russian Mafia and cults just before she
left. He told this writer in no uncertain terms that he deduced she was
not in any trouble and was planning to take off."
In pressing for more action, O'Keefe noted my letter.
"He (Sullivan) noted that she seemed unable to be anywhere without
hitching up to older, powerful people. That she had some connection to
such types in Nutley -- as posted by Sullivan and partially confirmed by
Early in November, the police department responded as Unsolved Mystery's
cameras swept through Nutley. A headline in the Nutley Sun, O'Keefe's
competition read: "Mystery show tapes segment on missing mom; Police
speak publicly about theory on her disappearance."
"NBC's television's Unsolved Mysteries conducted four days of taping
last week for an upcoming TV segment on Susan WaWalsh," James Zoccoli
wrote. "The show, scheduled to air in January, will include interviews
with family members, friends and local police, along with re-enactments
of turning points in Walsh's life
"It is an interesting story and that's why we did it," said Eric Taylor,
director of the segment, neglecting to say that James Ridgeway had
pulled strings as well.
The program, according to this account, planned to have an actress
portray Sue as a go-go dancer and a patron of New York City's vampire
"We don't presume she disappeared because of vampirism," Taylor told
Zoccoli. "But she seemed very interested in subcultures."
But with the usual television dramatics, the director suggested the
program might have some secrets to uncover.
"I'm sure there are people who have relevant information that have not
come forward," Taylor said, failing again to mention that the program
may indeed have neglected to seek out many with information not fitting
The television show managed to interview the Nutley police and for the
first time, a detective gave a theory of Sue's vanishing.
"We feel that Susan is alive and that she wants to be out there," said
Detective John Rayan. "We want her to know that there are no warrants
out for her and that she is not in any trouble."
Taylor, according to the Nutley Sun account, had intended to interview
the amateur psychic at the Orechio owned OBC-TV studio in Nutley, but
cut the segment for lack of time. Barbara Mackey was trotted out of the
Orechio media empire when the more recognized Dorothy Allison gave a
vision which painted Sue as "alive and well" and doing what she wanted
"of her own free will."
Mackey, however, was adamant about her vision, and would later, seek a
book contract based partly on this prediction.
"It flashed in front of my eyes as I was reading a story about Susan,"
Meanwhile Sue's friends held out hope that Mackey's vision was wrong.
Melissa, who's opinion would be included in the program, claimed the
sightings were proof of Sue's survival.
"She has been seen by many people," Melissa said.
This article, like so many before it, dragged out of the closet the
question of whether or not Sue was a recovering alcoholic who had
returned to her obsession, and again, brought out the opinion that Sue
would not leave her son without some major who had returned to her
obsession, and again, brought out the opinion that Sue would not leave
her son without some major reason. Floyd, one of the chief proponents of
this theory and a recovering alcoholic himself, told Zoccoli that he
believed she had fallen back into her old habits, combined with the use
"I dreamt she called me on the phone and told me she was no longer in
any pain," Floyd said.
"Merchant's voice hesitated as he said the implication of the dream was
clear to him," Zoccoli wrote, "that is daughter is no longer alive."
Later, Floyd told Joel Lewis that "Sue is probably no longer alive," and
continued to emphasize her love of her son as proof, noting that she was
"very protective of her son and was always there for him, no matter how
she was feeling. She felt that she had to do go-go dancing to support
But in Joel's unpublished story, Floyd went further than he had
previously, saying not only had Sue fallen back into her old habits, but
that some doctors were to blame.
"He also feels that his daughter was being overmedicated by her
doctors," Joel wrote.
"Sue had a bi-polar disorder, yet it was not the most severe form,"
Floyd said. "They had her on too many medications-- lithium, Xanax, and
, I believe, Prozac. It's possible she may have had a bad reaction to
the medications, given that she was drinking and doing cocaine as well."
Indeed, this was one of the most believable aspects of The Susan Walsh
Story. When I inherited my uncle in 1981, he had seen dozens of doctors.
Each had given him a prescription for a different drug, each failing to
ask if he had been prescribed drugs by other doctors. In my uncle's
haste to cure himself, he had faithfully washed down these pills with
alcohol, thus destroying his body chemistry and sending him into a fit
of shakes it took years for him to overcome. He never overcame the
mental disorders that resulted from the overdose.
But just as Mackey insisted that Sue was dead, Allison said just the
"I do not believe she has been murdered," Allison said. "I don't get a
Allison has given the police clues to Sue's disappearance, but Zoccoli
said these were not disclosed "if any of the leads proved fruitful."
The article went on to say that Sue sightings had occurred in a wide
area of Northern New Jersey, including Newark, Bellevile and Midland
Park. It also claimed that Sue had planned to enter a clinic in order to
become "a better Godmother" to Melissa's baby.
Sue had also apparently told friends that someone was out to get her.
"The friend said that on more than one occasion two men dressed in
expensive suits appeared to follow Walsh," Zoccoli wrote. "The
girlfriend also said the missing Nutley women confided in her just days
before her disappearance saying that somebody was obsessed with her."