Stacie Madison woke up early on Saturday, March 20, 1988. The 17-year-old was taking the SAT exam that morning, and wanted to make sure she did well enough to be admitted to the University of North Texas, where she planned to major in business. She wasn’t particularly worried about the exam; she did well in school and had studied until she felt adequately prepared. When the exam was over, she returned to her Carrollton, Texas home and spent the afternoon getting her hair permed by her mother. Pleased with the results, she got dressed and ready to go out and have some fun. It was the last weekend of spring break, and she wanted to make the most of it.
Susan Smalley, one of Stacie’s friends from school, drove to Stacie’s house that evening to see what her friend was planning on doing that night. The two girls decided to go out together and then spend the night at Susan’s house, located just a few miles away from Stacie’s home. Ida Madison gave her daughter permission to sleep over at Susan’s house, but told her that she still wasn’t allowed to stay out past her midnight curfew. The two girls jokingly asked how Ida would know if they were home or not, and Ida warned them that she just might call to check up on them. She reminded her daughter that, unlike Susan, who was already 18 years old, Stacie was still considered a child. Stacie promised to behave, gave her mom a hug, and bounced out the door.
Susan had dropped her mother off at work earlier that day so she could use her car to run errands, but she had to pick her up later that night. Stacie decided that she would follow Susan to her home in her own car, a pale yellow 1967 Mustang convertible that she adored. The two girls spent some time in Susan’s room discussing what they wanted to do later that night, then left the house together in Susan’s mother’s car. They drove to the Prestonwood Shopping Center to pick up Carolyn Smalley, then returned to Susan’s house.
The two teenagers decided to go to a small party at an apartment in Arlington, Texas, about 30 minutes away from Carrollton. They stayed there for an hour or so, but they were getting hungry and wanted to get something to eat. As they left the apartment, they mentioned that they were going to go to Chili’s for some food but might return to the party later that night. It’s unclear if they actually went to Chili’s, but they did not return to the Arlington apartment that evening.
Stacie kept her promise to her mom; the girls got back to Susan’s house just before midnight. The girls did go back outside, though, as soon as she was sure her mother wouldn’t call to worry about her. They tried to buy beer at a nearby 7–11, but the clerk wouldn’t let them because both of the girls were too young.
Susan had a part-time job at the Carrollton restaurant Steak & Ale. She asked Stacie to drive her there so she could talk to a coworker. Stacie did what Susan asked, but she stayed in her Mustang while Susan went into the restaurant. Her crush was on one of her coworkers, and she talked to him for five minutes before leaving.
Susan’s boss saw her leave the restaurant and saw Stacie’s Mustang leave the parking lot. It was the last time that the two girls were seen for sure. That night, they never got back to Susan’s house, and no one ever saw them again.
When Carolyn Smalley woke up on Sunday morning, she saw that neither Stacie nor Susan were in the house. She knew something was wrong. Susan’s bed didn’t look like it had been slept in, and Stacie’s overnight bag was still in her bedroom. Her Mustang wasn’t outside either. So she wouldn’t get too upset, she called Stacie’s mom to see if the girls had gone over there for some reason. But her mom hadn’t seen her daughter since the night before. They called the police to report the girls missing because they felt bad about it.
At first, the police didn’t seem to care. They told the parents that the girls probably just wanted to extend spring break and had taken a last-minute trip. They said it was possible that the teens went to St. Padre Island, which is a popular place for tourists to visit. This idea made both sets of parents very angry. These girls didn’t often run away. Both of them did well in school, had stable jobs, and were excited about graduating in a few months. Also, they were teenage girls who cared about how they looked. They wouldn’t have gone on vacation without their clothes, hair products, and makeup.
Both families were scared when a security guard found Stacie’s Mustang in the parking lot of a Dallas shopping center. People thought that Stacie would not have left her convertible unattended in a parking lot so far from her home. It was possible that she and Susan had planned to go somewhere with other people. The people who lived with them were sure that they had been taken against their will.
The police quickly checked the car and found no signs of wrongdoing. The windows were down, the top was in place, and the doors were locked. The only things that were found in the car were Stacie’s boombox and each girl’s jacket, which was neatly draped over the boombox in the back seat. It’s likely that the police made a big mistake here. They didn’t bother to look through the car for forensic evidence because they thought there were no signs of foul play. Fingerprints or possible DNA samples were never taken from it. It was given back to Stacie’s family instead. Police told the girls’ family that they had probably run away with some friends and were now afraid to come home because of all the attention.
Friends and family of the missing teens knew they couldn’t count on the police to start looking for them, so they decided to do their own investigation. They had flyers made and put them up all over the local area.
By the end of the week, neither teen had been heard from, and even the police were getting worried. At a press conference, they said that they would handle the case as if something had happened to Stacie and Susan, even though they didn’t have any proof of wrongdoing. Family, friends, and classmates were asked for information about where the girls might be, but no one could give it.
At 1:00 am on March 25, 1988, someone called the police dispatch center and said, “Stacie and Susan are okay.” The caller then hung up quickly. Detectives couldn’t figure out who had called because the call came in on a line that wasn’t being recorded. Their best guess is that it was a hoax, but they can’t be sure.
People said that both Stacie and Susan were mature, responsible, and liked by their classmates. They also did well in school and got good grades. Susan was working two jobs to save money for a new car, and she had talked about going to Dallas County Junior College the following year. Stacie worked as a receptionist in an allergist’s office. She had been in the school marching band and played the French horn, but she quit her senior year to take the job. You should know that she used to dance with a baton until her junior year, but she stopped because a boyfriend said she never had time for him.
The police asked Stacie’s boyfriend, Kevin Elrod, a lot of questions. People in his class said he was abusive and controlling, and Stacie had been trying to break up with him. She stayed with him because she couldn’t find a nice way to end the relationship. It was said by many that he was probably to blame for the sudden disappearances.
Her mother, Ida Madison, did not like Kevin. As she knew, Stacie had wanted to be away from him. When he called that Saturday night to find her, Ida told him that Stacie had gone out with Susan. She was now afraid that Kevin might have gone looking for Stacie and been mad when he found her.
When Kevin told another girl he was seeing that he had killed Stacie and Susan and buried their bodies in a cemetery, people became very suspicious of him. The girl was scared and called the police right away to tell them what happened. Police searched the cemetery but couldn’t find any signs that either of the girls who went missing had ever been there. Afterward, Kevin told police that he had only said he killed them because he was annoyed that everyone he talked to kept asking him about Stacie and making it sound like he somehow hurt her. He chose to tell people he killed her because he thought that was what they wanted to hear. He agreed to take a polygraph test about the missing people, which he did and passed.
During the second week of the search, both families decided that it would be best to hire a private investigator. They didn’t think the police were paying attention to the case and hadn’t been looking for their daughters. They thought a private investigator might be able to find some new leads more easily, but that didn’t work out. Since they didn’t learn anything new after spending $3000, they decided to do their own research.
People from the community called the police a lot in the first few weeks of their investigation. There were many possible sightings of the teens who went missing, but detectives couldn’t confirm any of them. A lot of people called to offer information they thought would help with the investigation, but no solid leads could be found.
The Carrollton First Great Western bank set up a fund so that they could offer a reward for information about where Stacie and Susan were. People and businesses in the area put money into the fund, and by the second week, the reward had grown to $10,000. Authorities hoped this would give them new ideas, but they didn’t find out anything that helped them find the two girls.
The shopping center where Stacie’s car was found was located at the intersection of Webb Chapel Road and Forest Lane in Dallas. The parking lot there was a popular hangout for teenagers on weekends, when they would gather in crowds to drink and flirt. Stacie and Susan were known to hang out there, but when detectives tried to learn more about what might have taken place on the night the girls disappeared, they were unable to get any real answers from the teenagers they encountered in the parking lot. Investigators spent several weekends interviewing the teenage regulars, but they either didn’t know anything or were refusing to tell police what they knew.
As time went by, the number of tips being called in to police dwindled, then eventually stopped altogether. Although the families were trying to remain hopeful, it got harder as time went by and there was no progress made on solving the case. While Ida and Carolyn were convinced that their daughters were going to be returned home safely, John Smalley, Susan’s father, had a much harder time staying positive. He worried that the teenagers had either been killed or given drugs and forced into prostitution. He saw no way for the case to have a happy ending.
Months went by, and soon Stacie and Susan had been missing for a full year. Detectives admitted that they were no closer to solving the case than they had been at the beginning, and stated that they needed the help of the public in order to advance the investigation. Although a few people called in, all leads ran into dead ends. One person insisted that the two girls had decided to run off and get married to each other, another suggested that Stacie had a boyfriend at a state prison in Bushnell, Florida and could be found visiting him every Saturday. A woman believed the girls were living in an apartment in West Virginia. Another caller suggested they had moved to Minnesota. It seemed everyone had a theory about where the two teenagers might be, but none had any actual facts.
Many believe that the key to solving this case lies with the teenagers who gathered in the parking lot where Stacie’s car was found, but these teens were reluctant to get involved. Some speculate this was because they didn’t want to get in any trouble themselves once their families found out that they had been hanging out in the parking lot until the wee hours of the morning, but as time went by this excuse grew less feasible. All those teenagers are now in their forties and fifties, and there is no reason for them to remain silent.
Kevin Elrod was a potential person of interest in the disappearances at first, and there are many who still believe he was the person responsible. He was interviewed several times by detectives, however, and he passed a polygraph exam. At this time, he is not considered a suspect or a person of interest.
The case was at a standstill from the start, and it just got colder as years have gone by. Detectives still believe that there are people out there who know what happened to Stacie and Susan, and urge them to come forward. A reward is still being offered in this case.
Stacie Madison was 17 years old when she vanished in 1988. She has blue eyes and blonde hair. At the time of her disappearance, she was 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed 140 pounds. She was last seen wearing white cotton pants, a white sweatshirt with an orange and pink logo on the front, and white tennis shoes. Her ears were double pierced and her hair had just been permed at the time she went missing.
Susan Smalley was 18 years old when she went missing in 1988. She has green eyes and brown hair, and at the time of her disappearance she was 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed 140 pounds. She was last seen wearing blue pants and a white sweater, and her ears were triple pierced. She usually wore contacts or eyeglasses.
If you have any information on Stacie or Susan, please call the Carrollton Police Department at 214–446–3324.