Authorities say an Arizona man with a conviction for stockpiling a large number of improvised bombs is now accused of killing his stepdaughter, who vanished without a trace on the last day of her junior year in 2001.
Nineteen years ago, Alissa Turney, 17, disappeared on May 17, 2001. Now, her stepfather, Michael Turney, has been charged with second-degree murder, according to the Arizona Republic.
"Alissa Turney was 17 years old went she vanished. On that day she poked her head into her boyfriend’s woodworking class at Paradise Valley High School and said her stepfather was taking her out of school early. She has never been seen or heard from again," the Maricopa County Attorney's Office said in a release announcing the arrest.
Michael had previously told authorities that he picked Alissa up early and they had gotten in an argument. When he left his home to run errands, he said he came home to find her gone with a note claiming she had run away, according to the Phoenix Police Department.
Alissa's sister Sarah Turney had told Dateline earlier this year that this conflicted with Alissa expressing excitement to attend a graduation party that evening.
The case went cold for a few years as she was classified as a runaway. But in 2008, Phoenix police became aware of more evidence in Alissa's case and signs pointed to Michael Turney as a person of interest — as family members came forward with allegations about his behavior toward his stepdaughter, Dateline reported.
The investigation ultimately lead to a raid on Michael's home later that year. There, authorities found 19 high-caliber assault rifles, two handmade silencers, a van filled with gasoline cans, and 26 explosive devices filled with gunpowder and roofing nails, according to the Arizona Republic.
“This is the largest seizure of I.E.D.s the Phoenix Police Department has ever made,” a police spokesperson told the newspaper in 2010.
Police also discovered homemade videotapes of Alissa dating back to the 1980s and a number of documents that Michael allegedly forced his daughter to sign — such as one making her declare she had never been molested by her stepfather.
Alongside these pieces of evidence, police also discovered a rambling manifesto allegedly written by Michael Turney.
In the document, Michael claimed his daughter was kidnapped and murdered by "assassins" working for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union. He was stockpiling explosives to stage an attack on an IBEW union hall to retaliate, according to the Arizona Republic.
He pleaded guilty to possession of unregistered destructive devices in 2010, and was released from prison in 2017, according to NBC News.
Following a lack of movement in the case after Michael's release, Sarah Turney began making multiple media appearances and launched a blog dedicated to investigating her sister's disappearance to draw widespread attention to the case, according to Dateline.
"I’m shaking and I’m crying. We did it you guys. He’s been arrested," Sarah said on Twitter after the arrest was announced.
Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel declined to specify what led to Michael's arrest, only stating that he was indicted by a grand jury, according to a release.
It's not clear if Michael has retained an attorney to comment on the charges.
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