It’s been nearly 10 years since Michael Roy Turney picked up his stepdaughter on the last day of her junior year at Paradise Valley High School.
That was May 17, 2001, and Turney was the last known person to see 17-year-old Alissa Turney. Now an investigative lead in her disappearance, he refuses to answer questions and will not sit down for a police interview as he nears sentencing Tuesday in an unrelated federal case on charges stemming from a bomb plot to attack a local union hall.
Phoenix police detectives William Anderson and Stuart Somershoe, who have investigated Alissa’s disappearance since September 2008, believe she is dead and that Turney “wins” until her body is found.
“Alissa was under this guy’s thumb since she was 3, and for him to sit back and show her no regard is despicable,” Anderson said. “He needs to explain a lot of things.”
The detectives continue to focus on Alissa’s disappearance in hopes that somehow there will be a break in the case.
At approximately 11 a.m. on May 17, Alissa was last seen in the area of East Bell Road and North 39th Street on the last day of her junior year at Paradise Valley High School. She stuck her head inside the shop classroom, told her boyfriend that her stepdad was going to pick her up and that she’d see him later.
The day Alissa vanished, Turney had taken Alissa out of school early and claimed he left her at their home after an argument. He said he returned that evening to find Alissa gone and a handwritten note saying she was going to California.
Foul play is suspected in her disappearance.
Alissa had alleged that her father was sexually inappropriate with her and she would sometimes wake up bound and tied, according to court documents and police reports.
Turney, a father of five, had video surveillance outside and inside his home, but no known video exists of Alissa at the home the day she went missing.
“She was going to go to an older friend’s graduation that night, was scheduled to go to work the next day where she had never missed a shift. She left behind a necklace her boyfriend had bought her, her cell phone, $1,800 in her bank account and only had a backpack with her,” Anderson said. “That’s not indicative of someone who was planning to run away.”
Turney, 62, has a long history of claiming people have conspired against him in his past jobs as a deputy with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and later as an electrician, according to authorities and forensic experts. He is facing up to 10 years in prison in a sentencing scheduled for Tuesday with U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton in Phoenix. Turney has been held in a federal prison since his arrest in December 2008, soon after Phoenix police arrived at his home in northeast Phoenix with a court order to obtain DNA evidence from him in connection with Alissa’s disappearance.
Instead, police discovered 26 pipe bombs, including one about 2 feet long filled with 20 pounds of roofing nails and gunpowder, and numerous firearms. From Turney’s home, police also confiscated a 97-page manifesto titled “Diary of a Madman Martyr,” in which Turney wrote that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers were out to get him and that he shot and killed two of the union’s “assassins” — who he said claimed responsibility for Alissa’s death.
“He portrays himself as a victim of a mass conspiracy,” Somershoe said. "He goes through great lengths to cover up his lies.”
In the manifesto, Turney also claims one of the “assassins” buried Alissa in Desert Center, Calif. — a vast swath of dessert between Blythe and Indio.
Turney’s case was profiled in a segment last year on ABC’s “Primetime” news show by reporter John Quiñones.
In recordings, Turney described Alissa, whom he adopted at age 4 during his third marriage, as an “it that needed spayed” when she was 9 years old.
Alissa’s mother died in 1993, and Turney never remarried.
Turney once told extensive lies about his military service in the Vietnam War when he never was there, the detectives said.
In court proceedings, Turney also has been trying to buck the maximum sentence recommended by prosecutors and prominent forensic psychologist Erin Nelson.
Nelson, who works for Steven Pitt and Associates in Scottsdale, fueled Turney’s ire by deeming him someone who has a “greater hostility and resentment to those who conspired against him” and said she has a “significant concern” for his possibility of future danger to others.
Turney, who is defending himself with a legal adviser, pleaded guilty to possession of explosive devices, but is now trying to withdraw the plea. Nelson said she believes Turney should get at least 10 years in prison.
As for whether Alissa is buried in California, Anderson said: “The person who knows she was buried there, would be the person who put her there.”