Unsolved disappearance of two girls detailed in new book

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by JASON WHITELY / WFAA-TV

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

wfaa.com

Posted on December 3, 2009 at 2:09 AM

Updated Sunday, Nov 3 at 10:44 PM

DALLAS - For Ida Madison, the passing of time hasn't helped.

"My daughter still has not been found and I can't stop looking for her," she said.

Madison just wants to know what happened to her oldest daughter, Stacie.

As their classmates from Carrollton's Newman High School started Spring Break, Stacie and her friend, Susan Smalley, disappeared March 20, 1988.

Volunteers passed out hundreds of fliers with the girls' pictures on them at shopping centers, but the two high school seniors seemingly vanished without a trace.

With no credible leads and a stalled investigation, their story soon faded from the headlines.

"I think this case has languished for too long," said Shawn Sutherland.

Almost 22 years after Stacie and Susan disappeared, Sutherland has revived their case.

As a 1982 graduate of the same high school, he was drawn to their story. Sutherland briefly met Susan before she disappeared when she worked as a hostess at the Steak & Ale Restaurant in Addison.

Over the last seven months, Sutherland, who is a paralegal, has spent his own time and money conducting an independent investigation that he recently self-published in a book titled This Night Wounds Time: The Mysterious Disappearances of Stacie Madison and Susan Smalley.

In the book, the original Carrollton Police detectives working the case, who have since left the department, admit Stacie's boyfriend was never entirely cleared in the case.

"As far as they know, his family and friends were never pressed and they should be," Sutherland said.

Her boyfriend, who is not mentioned by name, confessed to his new girlfriend that he killed the two girls and then immediately recanted. Investigators stopped pursuing him after he passed a polygraph.

Madison thinks Carrollton police did the best they could with the knowledge they had in 1988. But, she isn't convinced her daughter's former boyfriend had nothing to do with the disappearance until he's finally cleared.

"Maybe he did exactly what he told that girl he did do - that he hit them both over the back of the head and killed them, then he buried their bodies and took the car back," she said.

Madison doubts Stacie or Susan are still alive. Their disappearance remains one of the oldest unsolved cases in Carrollton. It's still classified as missing persons since there is no evidence of a homicide. Their missing poster still hangs inside the Carrollton Police Department.

Sgt. Joel Payne said the case remains active, is assigned to an investigator and leads still trickle in. But, detectives wouldn't reveal whether they're still following up with Stacie's former boyfriend or taking any other steps for investigative reasons.

Payne and Madison hope Sutherland's book, which he is selling at cost, generates new leads in the unsolved mystery.

For now, more than two decades later, it's still a story without an ending.

Anyone with information in the case is asked to call Carrollton Police at (972) 466-3290.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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