This post deals with child abuse and might be triggering for some readers.
It was May 17, 2001.
Alissa Turney, 17, had just finished her last day at Paradise Valley High School in Phoenix. Her stepfather had picked her up from school early, taken her for lunch and dropped her home.
When her 12-year-old sister Sarah walked into her room later that day, she found her usually spotless room in total disarray and no signs of her older sister.
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Alissa's Nokia phone was on the chest of drawers, with a note beside it saying, "Dad and Sarah, when you dropped me off at school today, I decided I really am going to California. Sarah, you said you really wanted me gone – now you have it. Dad, I took $300 from you. That’s why I saved my money."
At first, this wasn't hugely suspicious. Alissa and Sarah had an aunt in California and Alissa had spoken about wanting to move there since she didn't get along with her stepfather, Michael Turney.
Michael, who is Sarah's biological father, adopted Alissa after their mother, Barbara Strahm passed away from cancer nine years earlier. The night Alissa went missing, Michael, who was previously a deputy sheriff for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, called the police and reported his stepdaughter as a runaway.
The detectives on the case didn't find it suspicious either. But Sarah Turney wasn't convinced her sister simply ran away.