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Stepfather charged with murder in 2001 disappearance of Alissa Turney

Michael Turney has been charged with second-degree murder of his daughter, Alissa Turney, who disappeared from Phoenix in 2001.

PHOENIX — The stepfather of a Phoenix girl who went missing in 2001 has been indicted by a grand jury in her murder.

Michael Turney, 72, was arrested Thursday afternoon in Mesa and charged with second-degree murder of his daughter, Alissa Turney, who was 17 when she went missing.

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.

Alissa Turney disappeared the day she finished her junior year at Paradise Valley High School.

Sarah and Michael found a note in her handwriting in her room in May 2001, saying she was going to California. They frantically tried to reach her and called police.

After months of traveling, handing out fliers and searching, the trail went cold.

Alissa's case was brought into the spotlight again in 2006, when a Florida man confessed to her murder, according to the Arizona Republic. Phoenix Police told NBC Dateline that the man's description of Alissa did not match.

That investigation led friends and family to come forward with more information about the relationship between Michael Turney and Alissa.

Then in 2008, Phoenix police said foul play was a factor in Alissa's disappearance. Sgt. Maggie Cox with Phoenix police said that allegations of sexual abuse by Michael Turney changed the investigation's focus.

“The totality of circumstances known to police prompted the focus on Michael Turney as the suspect,” Sgt. Cox told Dateline.

Michael Turney was accused of plotting to blow up an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union hall in 2010.

In a search of Michael Turney's home, police found numerous weapons, including 26 explosive devices, and a manifesto, police said. Turney served 7 years of a 10-year federal prison sentence.

Sarah Turney has dedicated a lot of time and effort to finding answers and getting justice for her sister. She created a podcast and recently used the app TikTok to share her sister's story.

Alissa would be 36 years old in 2020. Anyone with information on the case can call Phoenix Police at (602) 262-6141, Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS or email phoenix.tips.ppd@phoenix.gov.

Credit: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office