Trial Begins For Michael Turney Who Is Accused Of Killing His Teen Stepdaughter
Michael Turney is accused of murdering his teenage stepdaughter, Alissa Turney, in May 2001, and his living daughter has been vocally supportive of his prosecution.
Alissa Turney was only seventeen years old when she was last seen in the Phoenix, Arizona area, on May 17, 2001, which was the last day of her junior year at Paradise Valley High School. Now her stepfather, Michael Roy Turney, is standing trial for her murder, and even his own daughter Sarah (Alissa's half-sister) believes he did it.
Over 22 years after Alissa was last seen, Michael Turney’s trial began on July 6, 2023. The case is complicated because Alissa’s body has never been found, but the prosecution detailed its arguments and evidence in their opening statements.
Michael is the last person who saw Alissa alive when he picked her up from school on May 17, 2001. According to CBS 5, in the opening statements, the prosecution revealed how Michael had been filming Alissa in their home and how he had hundreds of surveillance videos of her.
Prosecutor Vince Imbordino spoke during Turney's trial, and FOX 10 Phoenix reported that he spoke about how police searched the Turney’s former home when they began to suspect foul play in 2008. He said, "What they discovered was the defendant had literally hundreds of audio tapes of phone calls recorded over the years. Literally tubs of cassette tapes, tubs of VHS tapes."
Despite all those recordings, they found no footage of the day of Alissa’s presumed murder. Imbordino explained, "There's no video recording of them in the house that day. No video recording of them having an argument. No video recording of her leaving with her backpack. There's nothing from that day.”
Michael also recorded Alissa’s phone calls and seemingly made her sign a contract in which she stated that Michael didn’t sexually assault her. It all painted a very disturbing picture of how Michael treated Alissa.
Michael reported Alissa as a runaway shortly after she disappeared, according to ABC 15, and he allegedly staged a scene with a fake letter from Alissa saying she went to California. Alissa’s phone and other things that were very important to her had been left behind in her room.
After the opening statements, the defense argued that there isn’t any DNA or blood evidence that proves Michael killed Alissa. They also pointed out that there is no definitive proof that Alissa isn’t still alive.
Stephen Strahm, Alissa’s biological dad, sat right behind Michael in the courtroom. CBS 5 reported that Strahm spoke while crying, stating, “It’s hard to say it. I’d like to kill him, but I can’t do that. It’s not an easy thing to deal with day after day because she did nothing wrong.”
Sarah Turney, Alissa’s younger half-sister, is the prosecution’s star witness in the case. She was only 12 when Alissa disappeared, but she has become her strongest advocate. She started a podcast in 2019 called Voices for Justice which explored Alissa’s disappearance and the police investigation into the case. She has since started posting to TikTok and Instagram to help find justice for her half-sister, and she has over a million followers on TikTok.
When Michael was finally arrested in connection with Alissa’s presumed murder in August 2020 after Sarah’s extensive efforts, she told 12 News, “I’ve been crying and trying not to cry but thank you because I couldn't have done this without each and every one of you without you guys caring so much and sharing her story.”
Sarah’s been on a long journey to find justice for Alissa, and her day in court has finally come. During the first day of the trial, on July 6, Sarah reminded the jury and spectators of her sister’s humanity. Now 34, Sarah spoke of her first memory of Alissa, recalling how they listened and danced to Boyz II Men music in their kitchen.
The judge revealed that they plan to have the trial finished on July 20, then the jury can then begin deliberations.
Over the years, police have declined to arrest Michael Turney or to name him a suspect, but daughter Sarah is convinced that Michael may know more than he has revealed.