Though most TikTok users use the platform to create fun dancing videos and laugh at silly memes, one woman is taking advantage of the virality of the video-sharing app to demand justice for her sister who went missing in 2001.
Sarah Turney was just 12 years old when her 17-year-old sister Alissa went missing. According to true crime blog Hue and Cry, Alissa was seen at school on May 17, 2001, but her step-father Michael unexpectedly picked her up early and she was never seen or heard from again.
Though charges have not been filed in Alissa’s disappearance and presumed murder, Sarah has no doubt in her mind that her father Michael Turney is responsible for what happened to Alissa — and she’s dedicated her entire life to getting him tried for it.
According to Sarah, Michael had been “watching and recording Alissa constantly before she went missing.” Police even confirmed that there was “at least one hidden camera” inside the house, though Sarah says that “many of [Alissa’s] friends say there were more.” (Michael refuses to hand over footage from the day Alissa went missing, to the police.)
According to the Arizona Republic, Alissa was initially classified as a runaway. After all, the day she went missing, Sarah and her dad found Alissa’s phone in her bedroom, plus a note saying that she was running away to California.
However, years later, detectives started to notice some inconsistencies in the story Michael told. If Alissa ran away, why had none of her friends or family members heard from her? Why was her bank account untouched? Why had her social security number not been used since the day she “left”?
When police eventually had probable cause to search Michael’s house in 2010, they found 26 homemade pipe bombs and a 90-page manifesto in which Michael claimed that Alissa had run away and was followed.
When police raided Michael’s home, they also found several contracts that Michael had Alissa sign “stating [that] she was never abused.” Michael, who formerly worked in law enforcement, preemptively called the authorities several times to say that Alissa was going to call and make false claims about him.
If this evidence isn’t damning enough, Sarah’s dad even told her that he’d be ready to tell her what happened to Alissa when he was on his deathbed.
“Be at the deathbed Sarah and I will give you all the honest answers you want to hear,” he said, laughing.
Publicly, Michael has vehemently denied any involvement in Alissa’s disappearance.
“They have no proof whatsoever of anything other than rumors and innuendos and lies,” he told ABC in 2009. “There’s only two people that can confirm whether I did it, and one is me, and the other is Alissa. Alissa’s not here and I’m sitting here and all I can say until hell freezes over, I didn’t do a damned thing to my daughter.”
Many law officials seem to believe Michael had something to do with Alissa’s disappearance.
“The circumstantial case [against Michael] is strong, and it’s growing,” Phoenix Det. William Anderson told ABC News in 2009. “There is no one bright spotlight on Michael Turney … but I have a tremendous number of stars, little bits of information that are illuminating the landscape.”
As of right now, Michael Turney is the only person of interest in Alissa’s case. However, in an interview with Elle, Phoenix Police Department’s Sgt. Maggie Cox said that “no charging decision has been made by the County Attorney’s office.”
Though most of Sarah’s family has either given up on Alissa’s case or doesn’t believe Michael is guilty, Sarah says she won’t stop until she has answers.
“What I’m going to do is scream to the whole world until Alissa has justice,” she wrote. “I’m going to abandon all fear of police retaliation, all fear of this destroying my career, and all fear of this consuming and destroying my life. I’m going to do it because it’s the right thing to do and Alissa would have done it for me.”
If you want to help Sarah demand justice for her step-sister, you can sign her petition here or listen to her podcast, The Voice for Justice. If you have any information about Alissa, you can also contact the Phoenix Police Department at 602-534-2121.
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