- Alissa Turney went missing in 2001.
- Her stepfather, Michael Turney, was later charged in connection with her disappearance.
- Michael was found not guilty of murder in July 2023 and was released from custody.
A chilling murder mystery has gripped Arizona, as the death of Alissa Turney remains unsolved. Alissa was reported missing by her stepfather, Michael Turney, in May 2001, according to ABC News. The teenager reportedly got into an argument with her stepfather on the day of her disappearance, and Michael later discovered a note in her bedroom. The room was undisturbed, and the note suggested Alissa was moving to California. Police deemed Alissa a runaway and foul play wasn't initially suspected.
Alissa’s case was reopened a decade later, with the Phoenix Police Department Missing Persons Unit suggesting an error in the initial police findings. Alissa became a subject of Dateline’s 20/20 when new information about her disappearance came to light. “At the time, there were no signs of foul play or exigency based on the fact Alissa was 17 years old and had no mental/physical health issues,” Sergeant Maggie Cox said (per NBC News).
Police then turned their attention to Michael after speaking with those close to the teenager. Michael was charged with second degree murder in connection with Alissa’s disappearance but was found not guilty. Michael’s attorneys argued that prosecutors weren't able to provide any physical evidence that Alissa was dead or that a crime was ever committed.
So, what is Michael up to now? He was released from custody on July 18, 2023, and is a free man. Here’s what we know.
Where is Michael Turney now?
Following Michael’s acquittal for the murder of his stepdaughter, Alissa, he expressed concern for the missing teenager. “He is happy that the judge saw it his way. He’s excited that he’ll be able to get out of custody,” his attorney Jamie Jackson said on his behalf, as reported by NBC News. Adding, “He is obviously still very concerned about the case and Alissa and trying to find who actually killed her.” And while Alissa’s, siblings were hoping for a different outcome, Michael is now free.
Michael appeared on 20/20 and spoke candidly about his stepdaughter’s disappearance, suggesting that he planned to spend his time looking for her. “I still got to look for my daughter,” Michael exclaimed. “[There’s] no proof that I had murdered her. Never was.”
How was Michael Turney related to Alissa?
Alissa's mom, Barbara Farnar, had two children from a previous marriage when she married Michael Turney. Michael adopted Alissa and her older brother John. He had three sons from a previous marriage — Rhett, James, and Michael Jr. Michael and Barbara had a daughter together named Sarah. Barbara died from cancer in 1993. Michael raised Alissa and Sarah by himself. The other children were already grown and had left the family home.
Alissa’s siblings are still advocating for justice.
Michael may have been found not guilty of murdering Alissa, but her siblings are still hoping that someone will be held accountable for the teenager’s disappearance. Sarah and James Turney started a podcast called Voices for Justices and have been chronicling their quest for answers about Alissa. After Michael was acquitted, the pair expressed their grief and also thanked supporters for drawing attention to Alissa’s case.
“Like my sister, Sarah, my brother and I want to extend our thanks to all of you who have contributed in the process of trying to find justice for our sister Alissa,” James said, per NBC News. James was speaking on behalf of himself as well as his sister Sarah and brother Michael Jr.
Alissa’s case remains unsolved as authorities have yet to uncover additional information about her disappearance. Michael can't be tried again for the crime, which limits any chance at additional criminal prosecution.