Today I read This Night Wounds Time: The Mysterious Disappearances of Stacie Madison and Susan Smalley, by Shawn Sutherland, which was self-published in April 2010.
This book suffers from the kind of problems typical of self-published works, namely editing issues like typographical errors. [Edit: The author says this has been corrected in the book’s later printings.] However, it is definitely worth a read as it contains pretty much all the available information on the disappearances of Stacie Madison and Susan Smalley, two high school seniors and good friends who vanished together from Carrolton, Texas during Spring Break in March 1988. The mystery is told in a clear and coherent narrative and, as the author is also from Carrolton and only a few years older than the missing girls, he was able to place the disappearances in context, better than a non-local author might have been able to do.
Sutherland interviewed Stacie and Susan’s family and friends, the law enforcement officers who investigated the case, and the only real suspect, who was Stacie’s boyfriend. Sutherland wrote extensively about the boyfriend, whom he refers to by a pseudonym. The man was possessive of Stacie and may have physically abused her, and she was trying to end their relationship before she vanished. After the two girls disappeared, the boyfriend quickly began dating someone else and told this person that he had killed Stacie and Susan and buried them in a cemetery. The new girlfriend went to the police with the story, and they searched the cemetery but didn’t find anything. The boyfriend passed a polygraph and has never faced charges in the two missing girls’ cases. But Sutherland makes a compelling argument that this suspect was not investigated as thoroughly as he should have been.
What happened to Stacie Madison and Susan Smalley is anyone’s guess, but it can’t have been anything good. I hope this book can help resolve the disappearances. Their families have waited far too long.