Alissa Turney was a seventeen-year-old junior at Paradise Valley High School when she went missing on May 17, 2001. Alissa’s friends and family told investigators that the missing teen was a good student, although she had a rebellious personality, she also worked part time at Jack and the Box and had a steady boyfriend.
Since Alissa Turney was three years old she has been living in a “blended family”, sort of Brady Bunch type setup. Alissa’s mother remarried to Michael Turney, who then adopted the child and raised her as his own. In an interview with 20/20 Michael Turney stated that the family didn’t use the term “stepfather” distinguishing the family as biological only.
Alissa’s boyfriend Jon Laakman was one of the last people to see her when she popped into his wood shop class on that last day, letting him know that she was being pulled out of school early by Michael. The details are sparse, but Michael and Alissa got into an argument soon after he took her to the house according to the stepfather.
He later took his biological daughter Sarah Turney to a water park before returning home to find a missing note from Alissa Turney. The following note reads.
Dad + Sarah
When you droped [sic] me off at school today i decided that i really am going to california. Sarah you said you didnt want me around look you gott [sic] it im gone! That’s why i saved my money. Dad i took $300 from you. Alissa
Phoenix Police Department considered Alissa Turney a runaway even though the seventeen-year-old left behind her hairbrush, cellphone, and $1860.00 available in her bank account – in which no withdrawals or activity was noted from the account.
Michael Turney quickly filed a missing person’s report because he claimed that he believed that Alissa was not a runaway, but actually in grave danger. Michael also claimed that a week after Alissa disappeared he received a phone call from her from a payphone in California and when the phone company helped him pinpoint the exact location. The Turney family goes to claim that the father traveled to California at least thirty times to find his missing daughter.
In 2006, a Florida convict admitted to killing Alissa after picking out her photo from a lineup. The convict went into details about the murder and Alissa’s alleged heroin addiction although detectives quickly figured out that he was lying about the entire affair.
In 2008, the Phoenix Police Department interviewed two hundred of Alissa’s friends and family members and the thought of her being a ‘runaway teen’ dissipated. Friends confessed that the stepfather Michael Turney was recording his kids every day with secret cameras as they performed their daily activities around the Turney home. There were also allegations of sexual abuse between Michael and Alissa that Michael would vehemently deny.
On December 11, 2008 the Phoenix Police Department exercised a search warrant seizing dozens of IED’s (improvised explosive devices), 28 pipe bombs, many weapons and ammunition, and an over one hundred page manifesto outlining the stepfather’s plan to blow up a local electrician union. His intended outcome was to blow himself up. Michael Turney pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession of unregistered destructive devices and was sentenced to serve a maximum ten-year sentence in which they released him in 2017.
Sarah Turney, the biological daughter and younger sister of Alissa, began her own marketing campaign to bring justice for her sister. Using websites, podcasting, and social media (including TikTok), Sarah was able to drum up intense re-interest in her missing sister. Finally, luck has begun to turn around for Sarah’s search for justice and in August 2020 Michael Turney was arrested for second degree murder of her stepdaughter Alissa.