Sunday, November 11, 2018

Alice Mae Sullivan- Missing from Nashville, Tennessee since 1986

By Dark Sleuth

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. 

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.

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:

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:

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:

"The last time I talked to her on the phone, she said, 'Mama, I want to move back home, and I'll just commute to school.'  That's the last thing she ever said to me: I'm coming home." 

*        *        *

Identifying Information:

Date of Birth: 08/03/1966
Missing since: 08/28/1986
Age at time of disappearance: 20 years old
Sex: Female
Race: Black
Hair: Black
Eyes: Brown
Height: 5' 2"
Weight: 90 lbs 

If you have any information on this case, please contact:

Nashville Police Department: 615-862-8600

Nashville Police Department's Crime Stoppers Division:
615-74-CRIME (615-742-7463)

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Book Review- I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

By Dark Sleuth

A single prolific criminal terrorized communities in Northern and Southern California.  He was a peeper, a burglar, a rapist and a killer.

For decades he remained nameless except for several monickers that, like his crimes, traversed the state.  
It started in the early 1970s in Visalia, California, where a man peeped, stalked and burglarized homes.  He earned the name the "Visalia Ransacker."  Next he became the "East Area Rapist," after moving north and making Sacramento County and the surrounding areas his hunting ground.  Later he targeted southern California, seemingly ending his crime spree in the mid 1980s in Orange County.  By then he was known as the "Original Night Stalker."    

What followed was silence.  Some believed that he had died.

But not Michelle McNamara, the writer and blogger behind True Crime Diary.  She predicted that he was still alive and would be found living a quiet, nondescript life.  

 In 2013, McNamara consolidated the previous monickers into one.  She rebranded the unknown perpetrator as the "Golden State Killer" in her Los Angeles Magazine article titled, "In the Footsteps of a Killer." 
Nearly 5 years later authorities announced the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo on April 24, 2018, a Navy veteran and former police officer. He was living in the suburbs near Sacramento.  The suspected Golden State Killer was apprehended when DNA evidence uploaded to a genealogical database produced a familial link.  

Sadly, despite all of her had work on the case, McNamara would not live to see her book published nor to see the suspected killer named.  She died in 2016.

*   *   *

 I'll Be Gone in the Dark is a book meticulously researched.  True to its title, the book describes the author's growing obsession with the case.  In the beginning, McNamara tells of taking over her daughter's playroom at night as her family slept.  Surrounded by toys in a still house, she poured over details on online forums run by amateur sleuths.

Over time, McNamara gained the trust of investigators and was given extraordinary access to case files. 

It is strange to read the book after the news of the arrest.  As Rolling Stone reports, "The timeline for all these crimes significantly overlaps with DeAngelo's own history."  Even during the crime spree, authorities suspected that the perpetrator may have had military training and/or may have been an officer.  

For example, in the book McNamara includes an eyewitness account of a man who watched a man suspected of being the "Visalia Ransacker" find a target.

One night, a young man was waiting for his girlfriend outside her home to take her out.  Inside his girlfriend was talking to her mom.  As he waited, he spotted a man in the distance, seemingly become entranced with the girlfriend as he watched her through the house's front windows.  The boyfriend stayed in his position, not visible by the dark-clothed man. He watched as the man dropped to the ground and began a military crawl, quickly approaching the house.  When the man stood up the boyfriend made his presence known and spooked the man.  There was a little bit of a chase but it ended with the Visalia Ransacker getting away- as he seemed to be armed.  

Even in his earliest cases, long before he escalated to rape and murder, the Visalia Ransacker/Golden State Killer, was using his military training to reconnoiter.  Practicing his approach, gathering information until he could strike.  Gaming the advantage. 

As McNamara had predicted, the perpetrator would eventually be found among the same communities he targeted: middle-class suburbs.  

The title I'll Be Gone in the Dark refers to something the Golden State Killer said to threaten a victim.  He was right of course.  After each attack he was gone, only to reemerge night after night, protected by the mundaneness of California single-story homes, manicured lawns and his knowledge of military and police procedures.  

Saturday, January 13, 2018

UPDATE: DNA Snapshot Composite of Suspect in Brittany Phillips Case

By Dark Sleuth

UPDATE: On August 7, 2018 Fox 23 News in Tulsa reported that authorities are planning to use DNA to try to find a familial link to the suspect in the Brittany Phillips case.

DNA Snapshot composite of suspect in the 2004 murder of Brittany Phillips.
(Source: KTUL News

On January 11, 2018, Tulsa Police released a DNA phenotype composite of the suspect in the 2004 unsolved rape and murder of Brittany Phillips.  

Brittany Phillips was killed on the night of September 27, 2004 in her Tulsa, Oklahoma apartment.  

Police are looking for a suspect who is a white man with blue or green eyes.  The composite is not age-progressed.  By default, Parabon Snapshot "produces composites from DNA at 25 years of age".

Video from KTUL News:

Read my previous post for more details on the case:
Brittany Phillips- Caravan to Catch a Killer 

If you have any information on this case, please contact:
Crime Stoppers
Tel: (918) 596-COPS (2677)

Sources of Information:
KTUL News, "New tips in 13-year-cold case after sketch released of possible suspect," by Angelica Brown, January 12, 2018 

PRNewswire, "Parabon Announces New Snapshot Forensic Art Service at the International Homicide Investigators Association Meeting," August 18, 2015:


Friday, January 12, 2018

Unidentifed John Doe Victim in Suspected Serial Killer Case- Brooklyn, NY

By Dark Sleuth 

This post is an update on the recent developments in the Rashawn Brazell case, previously covered in these posts: 

DNA Snapshot composite of unidentified John Doe victim in a suspected serial killer case.
(Source: NCMEC)

The gruesome 2005 murder of  Rashwan Brazell went unsolved for 12 years before police finally made an arrest in February 2017. Authorities believe that the suspect, Kwauhuru Govan, could possibly be a serial killer.

At the time, Kwauhuru Govan was already in custody.  He was indicted in November 2016 for the 2004 murder of 17 year-old Sharabia ThomasDNA found under the victim's fingernails matched Govan.    

Both victims lived within blocks of Govan's residence in Brooklyn, New York.  Brazell and Govan were neighbors. They lived across the street from each other on Gates Avenue, in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn.  

Now police are investigating whether Govan may be responsible for a third victim, an unidentified John Doe, whose remains were found just five months after Rashawn Brazell was killed.   

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Alisha Smiley - Missing from Atlanta, Georgia since 1985

by Dark Sleuth
Left: Alisha Smiley, circa 1985.
Right: Age-progressed composite by NCMEC (circa 2010)
(Source: NCMEC)

On Thursday, June 6, 1985, 3 year-old Alisha Smiley disappeared from the Omni Hotel Complex in Atlanta, Georgia.  

Alisha Smiley was at the Omni that day with her aunt and 4 year-old cousin.  Her aunt left the two children sitting unattended on a bench inside the Omni, while she went outside to a ticket booth to purchase tickets for a wrestling event.  When the aunt returned to the bench, only Smiley's cousin was still there.  Alisha Smiley was last seen at approximately 1:45 p.m.

According to a June 16, 1985 article from the Atlanta Daily World, Smiley's aunt explained why she chose to leave children alone inside the Omni Complex while she purchased tickets outside:

"She said that she left the two there in an attempt to let the children cool off.  The temperature that day was in the high 90s." 

Alisha Smiley was seen wandering around the Omni Complex shops by herself.   According to The Doe Network, "Alisha was last seen by Omni employees asking for a cookie and asking about a bathroom."

Several reports also state that Alisha Smiley may have wandered off to the nearby McDonald's because she loved hamburgers.   

Smiley's aunt described the child as an "extremely friendly, trusting toddler."   Smiley was originally from Birmingham, Alabama.  She  had been living with her aunt and her aunt's husband for approximately 8 months prior to her disappearance.   Her parents were struggling financially as they went to college

According to a June 9, 1985 article from the Atlanta Daily World, published a few days after Alisha disappeared, "if asked, [Alisha] will state that she lives in Birmingham, Alabama." 

In the days after she disappeared, the Atlanta Daily World reported on several searches to find the missing toddler.  Nearly 150 people searched the Omni Complex and the nearby Georgia World Congress Center.  A wooded area behind a school in northwest Atlanta was also searched, all to no avail. 

Alisha Smiley was born on October 7, 1981.  She would be 36 years-old today. 

Physical Characteristics:
Sex: Female
Race: Black
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Brown
Height: 3' 0" 
Weight: 30 lbs
Dental: Gap in lower teeth 
- Smiley had pierced ears and may have been wearing gold earrings at time of her disappearance.

Smiley was last seen wearing: 
- a red and white checkered sundress
- white sandals
- braids tied with lilac-colored ribbons 

If you have any information regarding this case, please contact:
Atlanta Police Department:
Tel: (404) 577-8477

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC):
Tel: 1 (800) THE-LOST or 1 (800) 843-5678