Just Around the Corner


Brooke J. Freundschuh, Arts & Entertainment Editor

When I was 17, I stumbled across the tragic story of a girl named Alissa Turney, who has been missing since 2001. Hearing this story moved me in a way that I have never been moved before or since. I felt a true calling to simply help. I reached out to her sister, Sarah Turney, who I became fast friends with. I launched my own social media accounts called “A Voice For Alissa” to spread my message of advocacy. I successfully led a social media campaign to get the attention of the district attorney with jurisdiction over the case.

I believe I am so driven by this because when I first heard Alissa’s story, I was in the same place in my life that she was when her life ended. I wanted to take pride in living out days that she did not get to experience, and I vowed to use every day I was granted to spread her story until justice was found for her.

Now, over two years later, the first major step towards justice being achieved has been reached. On Aug 21. 2020, Michael Turney, Alissa’s adoptive/step-dad and the primary and only suspect in the case, was arrested on the charge of second degree murder in Alissa’s death. When I first read the news, I had no reaction. I set my phone back down and thought for a moment. I did not believe what I had read. It must have been a misunderstanding. Finally, after inspecting it a second time, I handed the phone to my boyfriend and asked him what he thought was going on. He lit up with excitement, and I immediately burst in to tears. I did not understand how something so wonderful had happened so unexpectedly, with no warning whatsoever, but it was true: he was finally behind bars for killing Alissa. This was something I had been helping fight for years. Sarah Turney’s media campaigns really took action this year, but as I tried to handle adult life, I always felt guilt for not being able to help as much as I did in high school. I still advocated, but with work and school, I no longer had hours a day to spend on it. A few days before the arrest was made, I filled out my planner for the next week. In my weekly goals I wrote “get Justice for Alissa!” as a reminder to be more active in advocating that week. Little did I know, that the work that Sarah, myself and many others had been doing for years was already paying off behind the scenes. In order for there to be an indictment from a grand jury, the case would have had to have been presented months ago, meaning that for a long time we had won and we had been making progress we did not even know about.

A week after this, I was at work when I received tragic news: the pastor of the church that I have gone to my entire life died unexpectedly. He was like an honorary member of my family, as he had been there for so many important moments over the years. He had been facing health issues, but no one expected this.

“He was just one of those people you wouldn’t expect anything to happen to,” I cried while on the phone with my family. I was reminded of ways that he had impacted my life that I had never stopped to think about, and as those who have just lost someone do, I regretted not telling him how much he meant to me when I had the chance.

Over this week, I learned a lesson: you never know what is around the corner. The year 2020 speaks as a testament to that. You could always be a moment away from receiving life changing news. You never know when the last chance to message someone on Facebook and tell them you love them is, and the thing you have been pouring your heart into for years, could already be in the process of working out without your knowledge. The only way to control any of these scenarios is to keep working hard and keep listening to your heart, but be patient with yourself, because you will hit a few dead ends along the way.