Real Name: Susan Mary Hurley Harrison
Nicknames: No Known Nicknames
Location: Ruxton, Maryland
Date: August 6, 1994
Occupation: Entrepreneur in selling hand crafted lamp shades
Date of Birth: March 2, 1942
Weight: 115 lbs.
Marital Status: Divorced
Details: Susan Hurley was a mother with two teenage sons when she met and married a man named Jim Harrison. Their relationship was rocky, full of heavy drinking and and frequent fights, but he blamed the fighting on her alleged manic depression. He claimed that she would yell, scream, fight with him and destroy things. Her sons, Nick and Jon, dispute that claim, saying they hadn't seen any signs of it.
Susan and her ex-husband shared custody of their sons. On one night, Jon was visiting prospective colleges while Nick was at his mother's home. Nick claims that he woke up at around 2AM and heard Susan and Jim fighting. She came into his room crying, saying that Jim was hurting her. Nick called Jon's girlfriend and she agreed to come pick him up. While waiting outside, Nick witnessed Jim abusing Susan. He came to her aid and told Jim to leave her alone. Jim, however, claimed that he never abused her and only defended himself. Police officers had been called on several occasions. One officer reported that Susan did have bruises, but was unable to get the full story from the couple.
Finally, in January of 1994, she left him to start her own business, selling hand-crafted lamp shades. Shortly after, she began seeing him again and the fighting continued. In early August, her children gave her an ultimatum: either stay with Jim and stay with them. The next morning, she decided to leave Jim for good. Two days later, on August 5, Nick arrived at his mother's home in Ruxton and found it open and empty. Her car was gone and a set of keys were on the kitchen table. He waited until 2AM and then went home. The next day, both the brothers notified the police who began an investigation.
The police questioned Jim about Susan and her whereabouts. He claimed that she visited him three times on August 5. He claimed that she was upset at first, but after she took a nap, she was much happier. Two hours later, she took another nap. When she woke from this one, however, her mood changed for the worse. According to him, she became angry and belligerent. She then left in her car.
Authorities immediately began a search for her missing car, a 1992 green Saab convertible, as it would provide clues to help find her. After three weeks, the car was discovered at Reagan National Airport, formerly Washington National Airport, approximately seventy miles south of her home. Records showed that the car entered the lot at 6AM on August 6. The keys were in the ignition, the gas tank was half full, and the battery was dead raising the question "Did Susan walk away from her life and family?" The police now had the missing car but little leads to go by and she was still missing. Later in August, Jim took and failed a polygraph test, claiming it was flawed.
The police have found no evidence that she disappeared on her own accord. They, along with Susan's family, believe that foul play was involved.
Suspects: The police have found no evidence of another person in the case and consider Jim the prime suspect. Suspicion remained with Jim who disputed and denied all the allegations.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the November 8, 1996 episode. Susan's sister Molly later wrote the book "Finding Susan" about her case.
Results: Unresolved. Two years later on November 29, 1996, her skeletal remains were found in a shallow grave by two hikers in a remote hunting area near Wolfsville, Maryland about fifty miles from her home. Dental records and two sapphire earrings confirmed her identity. With head injuries discovered on her skull, the State Medical Examiner ruled that she had been murdered, probably on the day she disappeared.
Susan's sons later filed a $17 million wrongful death suit against Jim Harrison. In August of 1999, the suit was settled privately. Surprisingly, later in 1999, the Maryland Attorney General's Office ended the criminal investigation into her death due to "insufficient evidence". Her family is convinced that Jim is responsible for her death, but charges were never filed and he passed away in 2007 at the age of seventy-one. A reward is being offered for information in this case.
- Susan Harrison at Unsolved.com
- Ruxton woman missing on eve trip with son
- Missing woman's Saab found at National Airport
- The Mystery of Susan Harrison
- Skeleton found in W. Maryland is vanished Ruxton woman
- Medical examiner says Susan Harrison died of head injuries
- Susan Harrison, missing 2 1/2 years, buried in Boston
- Harrison's sons ask for records from state
- Wrongful death suit files given to lawyers
- Susan Harrison Murder - The Imperfect Crime
- A sister's tribute
- Finding Susan by Molly Hurley Moran