How TikTok Helped Solve The 2001 Disappearance of Alissa Turney

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.

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  • Wow that’s wild! That dude has some issues for sure.
    Btw Jack in the Box is here in SC. the upstate has quite a few. And where’s all y’all’s social media profiles? I tried to send this to Jen but she’s not on Facebook ☹️

    • Jack in the Box where in SC? Where you at, we’re in Charleston. Jen is taking care of all our socials from now on, so you’ll have to contact her, but I will let her know that you asked about her for sure.

  • Awesome story! Thanx for casting it, is that a thing? NM. Quick Q tho, I’m wondering, the note…if she had $1800 in the bank why would she take $300 from her “dad”??? Just a thought.

    • It is now, I’m ‘casting’ every tuesdays and fridays now. Super earlier too, I’m sure I woke some people up this morning. Good question about the money, I don’t think she would. I really wish the “dad” would of tried to take the money out of her account, if so, he probably would of been locked up much sooner.

  • I have heard about this case before but I just finished a video on social media about it and decided to do a quick Google search. I have so many questions about this case. First, where was her mother during all of the sexual abuse, secret camera videotaping, writings of strange contracts, the day she disappeared, throughout the investigation, and throughout the entire campaign for justice???? So far I haven’t come across one article or video with any comment from the mother being referenced at all. I find that particularly odd. That is of course, unless she was/is ill or deceased, in which case I did not mean to speak ill of the dead. Second, why did it take so long for the guy that had lived or stayed in the home (not sure of that was referenced in this article but it was a fact that was disclosed in the video I just finished) to come forward about the “Dr Doolittle” videotape he found (was really a tape of Alyssa and another “woman” laying on the couch naked with newspapers over their faces) and what was actually on it? Also, when this information did come to light, why did the investigators make no attempt to find out who the second victim in the tape was and corroborate the mans story? Why did the other victim not come forward? Is it possible the man was wrong or lying about thinking it was “probably a friend” and that it was really the sister of Alyssa? Again, I have SO many questions! I also do not understand why her friends were not forthcoming, about the sexual abuse they say Alyssa had confessed to them that she suffered at the hands of her stepfather, from the very beginning! It seems like it wasn’t until years after her disappearance that they remembered that this might be an important detail. One last question, and I promise I won’t ask anymore! If the stepfather was such a paranoid conspiracy theorist that nobody seemed to trust or even like, why did neighbors, friends, and family members believe and convey that he didn’t have anything at all to do with the disappearance of his TEENAGE STEPdaughter? Oh!! Wait!! Last one, last one! Swear! Why did investigators NOT look into the location of the map with the coordinates written on it that was in a state park in the middle of nowhere found in his home when it was brought to them? They actually NEVER looked into it. However, a body WAS recovered from those EXACT coordinates years later! A hiker came across the remains, but by that time they couldn’t even determine if it was male or female remains and the results for the tests were inconclusive.So many people failed this young woman. They failed to protect her, to get any justice for her for many years, amd have failed to put her to rest for many as well. She probably still hasn’t been properly laid to rest with HER name on a tombstone and BY her loved ones. Because the investigators or police officers that were brought the map with the exact coordinates of the location she was dumped at (and possibly killed at) wasn’t important to the investigation. This case is so strange and very sad. I am however,glad that her sister began to fight for justice for her and eventually able to see that her father was guilty. I am glad that the asshole was finally arrested, too. If you have any answers to one of my many questions, let me know! Thank you! I enjoyed the article!

    • Brandi I can answer one question you had. Her mother died when she was very young, like 4 or 5 and she was then adopted by this man who is of no relation to her other then he was with her mother, this is why she’s not spoke up for her daughter. Hope that helps a bit

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