This Night Wounds Time

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.

4 thoughts on “This Night Wounds Time

  1. Justin January 9, 2011 / 7:21 pm

    So are you going to put this in your book section?

  2. Peter Henderson January 10, 2011 / 10:50 am

    Hi Meaghan,

    I also have read “This Night Wounds Time: The Mysterious Disappearances of Stacie Madison and Susan Smalley”

    Your correct, it does suggest that the only real suspect was Stacie’s boyfriend.

    But I am a believer in ‘Occam’s razor’ and as such I was looking for, but did not find, that the last person to see the girls was definitely ruled out.

    That night, Susan and Stacie went to the Steak and Ale on Belt Line Road. Stacie waited in her car while Susan went inside to talk to a co-worker. This Co-worker said something that I always found strange. He told police that Susan had been trying to date him.

    Just before this the girls had stopped at a 7-Eleven. The clerk told police the two had tried to buy beer from her that night, apparently before they went to the restaurant. Earlier they drove to Arlington and found an apartment full of people hanging out. They left, with plans to eat at Chili’s, and said they might return, according to the police file.

    What seems to stand out to me is that both girls were looking for fun that night. Stacie’s green-and-gold Mustang convertible was found later that day in a strip-mall parking lot at Forest Lane and Webb Chapel Road in Dallas — locked, with her portable stereo undisturbed on the back seat. The condition that the car was found in suggest to me that the two girls met someone they knew and trusted. Locked their car and got into that person’s vehicle.

    While Shawn Sutherland makes a compelling case for farther investigation of Stacie’s boyfriend, Kevin Elrod, I would really like to know what Susan Co-worker at the Steak and Ale alibi is.

  3. james collins January 3, 2012 / 5:06 pm

    i just read the book the other day and it really opened my eyes to how wicked this world is. i remember being very young when my cusine susan vanished from this world. and i remember all the speculation and gossip about what might have happened. i think about my kids now and whether i could ever really protect them from the dangers of this world and then i think of what happened to susan and her friend and i know that i cant.
    while i read the book i wondered the same thing as mr. henderson has. why did they not look closer at the other employee of the steak and ale.
    my other thought was this. since the stacies car was never fingerprinted or processed what is to say that not only did they know the killer but maybe they may have picked him up say maybe on his walk home from work or some kid they knew. and what if the person simply parked stacies car where it was found after he finished with the girls and just walked awayor caught a bus. we cant ever know.

  4. Stevie (Hughes) Armstrong March 27, 2013 / 12:51 pm

    Yes – I thought of that also James. It seems to me that it WAS Kevin Elrod that Stacie would have picked-up – because he mentioned to the police that Stacie was supposed to be picking him up from McDonalds that night and never showed – but I don’t believe that. I think she finally did and he was very angry with her and killed her and then of course had to kill Susan also. It made not have been intentional, but something went very wrong and there would have been no witnesses. He drove back and parked her car – just as you said. Kevin Elrod had always been abusive to Stacie. He also told another girlfriend that he did in fact kill them and bury them at Ritter cemetary by Lewisville Lake!! His family was never interviewed that I can remember. They just need to start over with everything…

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