There are so many disturbing true crime cases out there, but I think the story of Suzanne Marie Sevakis (aliases Sharon Marshall and Tonya Dawn Hughes) takes the cake. She lived a brutal life of prolonged abuse and captivity that is a nightmare to read about. And it ended in a horrendous murder.
Her tale is almost like a combination of Lolita and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. And it serves as a warning for women to be very careful about what kind of a stepfather they bring into their children’s lives.
Suzanne’s life was turned into a living hell at age 5, when she was kidnapped by seasoned psychopath Franklin Delano Floyd.
This man named after the president was a 30 yo lifelong criminal with arrests for being a pedo, rapist, bank robber, and assault and battery. And soon, he would be a murderer.
The Stage is Set
Floyd was able to hide his arrest records from employers and the women he dated, including Suzanne’s mom Sandi, who was smitten by the manipulative sociopath she met at a truck stop in 1974 and subsequently married.
In 1975, Sandi was jailed for passing bad cheques at a grocery store while merely trying to buy diapers for her young children (she had 4, all younger than Suzanne). While she was jailed, Floyd made off with her children and disappeared.
Sandi was broken when she asked police to help her find her missing children and they told her that Floyd had a right to take them “because he was their legal stepfather.”
Sandi managed to find her two middle daughters who were dropped off at a church charity home, but she never found her youngest son (Floyd had murdered the baby) and would never see Suzanne again.
From then on, Floyd would drag young Suzanne around from state to state, all across America, and made up false identities for both of them. Evidence shows he started abusing her at a young age.
A Double Life
But whatever was going on behind the scenes, Suzanne, now known as Sharon, hid well. At school people knew her as the intelligent beautiful blonde who volunteered for many programs and had stellar grades. She loved to read Shakespeare, and wanted to go into aeronautic space engineering after graduating.
They had lied to the school she attended that her mother had either died from cancer or a hit and run accident (oddly prescient later on).
However, she was strictly controlled by Floyd, who at this point was going by the alias Warren Marshall. At one point when a babysitter accused Floyd of molestation, he quickly fled the state with Suzanne before he could be investigated.
When friends tried to phone Suzanne, Floyd monitored the phone conversations. He was a fugitive since the 1970s and dreaded getting caught, especially now that he had kidnapped Suzanne and murdered her brother.
At one point when a friend came over to the “Marshall’s” home for a sleepover, Floyd took them to a sleazy bar and had the teens dress up in revealing garments and makeup. When the two returned home and began mocking the old creepy patrons who had hit on them in the bar, Floyd entered with a gun and threatened them for “making fun of men for no reason at all.”
The End of Hope
Suzanne’s life would go downhill from here. Floyd did not let her date at first since he was abusing her, but eventually allowed her to in order to divert suspicion. Suzanne ended up pregnant in the last year of high school with a boyfriend’s baby who she named Michael.
Despite this, Suzanne graduated with a full scholarship for aerospace engineering at Georgia Tech but Floyd would not allow her to leave him and attain a degree. Her dreams of working for NASA were dashed. She tried to run away with a boyfriend in 1986, but Floyd found them and took her back by force.
After this, Suzanne was pressured into becoming a stripper by the lazy unemployed Floyd, and he took 100% of her profits. He also made her get cheap breast implants. At this point his alias was Clarence Hughes, and Suzanne became Tonya Dawn. In 1989, he forced her to marry him and he went from pretending she was his daughter to his wife.
Floyd would call and check on Suzanne several times a day when she was at the club, and he would beat her leaving visible bruises if she did not bring back enough money each night. She was deathly afraid of Floyd and told a friend that “if I try running away again, Clarence will kill me and my two year old son.“
Around this time, Floyd became acquainted with Cheryl Ann Commesso, a fellow stripper who worked with Suzanne. He began beating her and pimping her out, and once beat her in a boat so brutally that she jumped into the river and swam to shore to escape. He tortured Cheryl to death in 1989 for reporting him for welfare fraud, and took photos of her murder which would later be used as evidence against him.
It is not known to what extent he involved Suzanne in Cheryl’s murder.
A Terrible End
In 1990, Suzanne tried to run away again for the last time. Floyd ran her over with a car by the side of the highway while she was walking home with groceries. He had found out that she was going to leave him with a boyfriend she had found at the strip club.
Suzanne’s skull was contused and bruised, and she died a few days after the hit and run. When Floyd was told she was dying, he was indifferent and did not even come to see her at the hospital. While in a coma, she kept mumbling the words “daddy.” She died alone.
Police were unable to convict Floyd for her murder even despite damning evidence from her friends and colleagues. A day after her death, Floyd immediately tried to collect a life insurance policy he put out on her months earlier.
At her funeral, Floyd placed a photo of himself and Suzanne as a child inside the casket. Nobody present had any idea what a dark role Floyd had played in this woman’s life since she was a child.
Suzanne Sevakis was dead at age 20 after a lifetime of trauma, abuse and evil. And it wouldn’t end there: Floyd kidnapped and murdered her baby son Michael in 1994. A trail of bodies followed this sick man’s killing spree, as he ruined the lives of all those around him. He rots in jail now, but it will never be enough.
One can’t even begin to imagine the horror of living a life of fear and secrets the way Suzanne did. It’s unbelievable that nobody was able to help her escape.
Only in death was Suzanne free from her tormentor.