Alice Mae Sullivan
(Source: The Charley Project)
On August 28, 1986 Alice May Sullivan, a bright 20 year-old sophomore attending Tennessee State University in Nashville disappeared. Sullivan was an ambitious business major who "earned excellent grades" and worked part-time at Burger King. She was also a devoted mother to her 3 year-old toddler son.
Sullivan lived with her boyfriend and her son in the Town Terrace Apartments near the TSU campus. She moved there with her boyfriend only 3 weeks before she went missing. Sullivan was from Gallatin, Tennessee, where her parents still lived. She was very close to them. They spoke every night on the phone.
On the morning of the day she disappeared, Sullivan got her son to preschool before attending her first class at 8:00 a.m. After class was over, she met with friends at Hankal Hall, a female dormitory, for some time between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Sullivan's next class was at 1:00 p.m., but she never showed.
She was reportedly last seen "by a friend from Gallatin walking near TSU's Gentry Center" on the afternoon she disappeared.
Sullivan was supposed to return home by 2:30 p.m. that day. She wasn't at the preschool bus stop to pick up her son. A neighbor, "who knew Alice from school," signed for the little boy and cared for him until Sullivan's boyfriend arrived.
Later her parents expected their nightly call. When they didn't hear from Alice, they felt something was "off." Her father, James Sullivan, called several times after seeing on a local newscast that a woman named "Alice Sullivan" had won a trip. He wondered if it was his daughter.
"I thought maybe she had entered the contest, but I never got an answer and I felt that was strange," her father said.
It wasn't until the morning of August 29, 1986 when her parents called again that someone finally answered the phone. It was Alice's boyfriend. He informed them that Alice had not come home. He was caring for her son, whom the neighbor had to sign off the preschool bus. Her parents "wondered why her boyfriend hadn't called them if Alice wasn't where she was supposed to be."
Authorities were contacted and her parents went to the apartment. Police suggested that maybe Alice had just gone away for a short time and would return soon. According to The Tennessean:
"Because detectives expected Alice to come back, they allowed the Sullivans to stay in Alice's apartment to wait- something they realize now was a major mistake."
The Sullivans remained in the apartment for weeks as they searched and waited for their daughter. If there was any potential evidence in the apartment, it could have been contaminated or lost.
Although it remains a missing persons case, authorities suspect foul play. In 2014 The Tennessean reported:
"Alice's boyfriend and several others are still being looked at as persons of interest today, including a maintenance man at Town Terrace Apartments who had befriended Alice and is now serving time for rape and murder."
Just prior to her disappearance, Alice Mae Sullivan reportedly told her mom that she wanted to move home. Lilly Sullivan told the Nashville Banner in 1995:
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Date of Birth: 08/03/1966
Missing since: 08/28/1986
Age at time of disappearance: 20 years old
Height: 5' 2"
Weight: 90 lbs
Last seen wearing: Black jeans, a black & white shirt, a black silk jacket
If you have any information on this case, please contact:
Nashville Police Department: 615-862-8600
Nashville Police Department's Crime Stoppers Division: