Justice for Alissa Turney: Who is Sarah Turney, how did she finally get dad Michael arrested in 2001 cold case

Alissa was 17 when she went missing in 2001. Police initially thought Alissa had run away to California. But Alissa’s sister, Sarah, became convinced that her father had something to do with it

                            Justice for Alissa Turney: Who is Sarah Turney, how did she finally get dad Michael arrested in 2001 cold case
Alissa Turney (National Center For Missing and Exploited Children)

A sister’s determination to seek justice for her step-sister finally had the desired results. According to 12news.com, missing Phoenix girl Alissa Turney’s stepfather Michael Turney, 72, was arrested on August 20 afternoon in Mesa and charged with alleged second-degree murder of his daughter. Alissa was 17 when she went missing in 2001. Police initially thought Alissa had run away to California. But Alissa’s sister, Sarah, became convinced that her father had something to do with Alissa’s disappearance.

The coverup

On 2001, Alissa disappeared the day she finished her junior year at Paradise Valley High School. Sarah and Michael had found a note in Alissa’s handwriting which said that she was going to California. They searched for her and informed the police immediately, in fact, dad Michael reported her as a runaway. After months of search, the case went cold. But it again came to focus in 2006. The report states that according to Arizona Republic, a Florida man confessed to her murder but the Phoenix Police told NBC Dateline that the man’s description of Alissa did not match. 

Later, investigations resulted in friends and family providing more information about the relationship between Michael and Alissa. In 2008, according to the report, Phoenix police stated foul play was a factor in Alissa's disappearance. The report states that Sgt. Maggie Cox of Phoenix police said sexual abuse allegations on Michael turned the investigation's focus. The police even wanted to review the house's audiotapes which were supposed to be on 24/7 but on the day of Alissa's disappearance had been crucially shut off. 

Officials had conducted nearly 200 interviews with coworkers, friends and family. When it came to security footage, he declined to let them review the videotapes, claiming he had browsed through them and that there was nothing relevant to their investigation. On further investigation, a search warrant was issued on Michael's residence and they discovered a bombing plot, at which point he was brought into custody in 2008. 

NBC's report quotes Cox telling Dateline, “The totality of circumstances known to police prompted the focus on Michael Turney as the suspect”. As per the report, Michael was accused of allegedly plotting to blow up an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union hall in 2010. While searching his house, police found numerous weapons, including 26 explosive devices, and a manifesto, police said. Michael served 7 years of a 10-year federal prison sentence. He was also ordered to participate in mental health treatments after being diagnosed with a paranoid personality disorder but none of it was linked to Alissa's disappearance.

A sister’s fortitude  

Sarah did not give up the determination to seek justice for her sister. Over the years, according to Elle, she started a Facebook group, an Instagram account and a blog called ‘Justice for Alissa’ and even a TikTok account dedicated to finding her sister. She did interviews with local and national media outlets, including Dateline. She paid attention to details on true-crime podcasts and also started her own investigative podcast -- Voices For Justice. She even attended CrimeCon, the weekend-long event for true-crime fans, to find leads, reports Elle.com. Sarah believed she knew what happened to her sister and is out to prove that it was her father, Michael, that abused, kidnaped, and eventually, murdered Alissa. 

Sarah told Elle that she wanted to reach a young audience who weren’t aware about Alissa's case before and tried to include “as little of my own speculation as possible and just present the facts” in her videos. According to the website, she has over 614,000 followers on the TikTok and posts mostly about Alissa. Sarah has used the platform to share never-before-seen footage from their childhood that indicates Alissa had been terrified of Turney and knew of his dark side. The story stated that in one of her videos, Sarah remembered the day Alissa vanished. She was out and said that she found Alissa’s otherwise organized room in disarray. Alissa's cell phone was left on the dresser, along with a note saying she'd gone to California to try and make it on her own.

Since April, according to the story, Sarah had been uploading her TikTok account with details about her father's alleged role in Alissa's disappearance. The article states that in a TikTok video, Sarah played what she claimed to be a recorded conversation that she had with Michael after he got out of prison in 2017. She claimed the meeting happened at a Starbucks and lasted for over an hour. She is quoted in the story as saying, “I felt a lot of different emotions [afterward. I was sad that he still refused to give me any answers... I was hopeful that [putting those statements on TikTok] would prompt the police to finally bring him to a grand jury for questioning.”

After news of his arrest, Sarah wrote on Twitter, “I’m shaking and I’m crying. We did it you guys. He’s been arrested. Omg Loudly crying face thank you. #justiceforalissa Never give up hope that you can get justice. It took almost 20 years but we did it.”



Twitter also reacted to the news. One user wrote: "Omg the girl on Tik Tok who has been trying to get her dad arrested for her sisters murder...finally got justice. He was arrested today for a murder that took place 19 years ago. F**king creep deserves to die a slow, painful death. #justiceforalissa."



Another acknowledged Sarah's efforts and wrote, "Sarah has put up a courageous fight to secure #justiceforalissa. Today, nearly 20 years later, her father has finally been arrested. Hopeful that tonight you can sleep a little easier than you have in many, many years. YOU made this all happen."



One concurred, "Sarah’s dedication to her sister’s case cannot be put into words. She is truly fierce and one of the bravest women I’ve followed on Twitter. So proud of her. Cheers to you Sarah, you really did it!!! #justiceForAlissa."



Another said, "Not gonna lie, my coworkers just saw me cry and were very confused. And when I told them Alissa is finally going to get the justice she deserves, we all did a lil happy dance because i wear my #justiceforalissa shirt at least once a week to work. So proud of you."



Another stated, "These detectives are for real sitting here like “wow we worked so hard go us” are you for real????? SARAH Did y’all a job. Pay her and give her credit where credit is due. #justiceforalissa."



Another commented, "Wow michael turney has finally been arrested for the murder of alissa turney after twenty years since her disappearance. kudos to her sister sarah for fighting so hard and so long to prove that man's guilt. #justiceforalissa."



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