If we wanted to quickly sum up Susan’s character, looking to her home phone’s answering machine message paints the perfect picture: “Practice peace and have a wonderful day”.
Susan worked as a personal growth consultant and gave workshops on meditation and relaxation techniques. She was also an activist for peace and social change. Along with being a delegate to the 1977 Soviet-American Citizen’s Summit in Washington, Susan co-founded the South Brevard Women’s Outreach Center and a Brevard chapter of the National Organization for Women. Among all of these roles played by Susan, she had also recently began writing her first book, which was focused on a profile of individuals in international peace and justice movements.
“She had a burning desire for a nonviolent world and world peace. If you understand that, you will understand that her physical death cannot and will not stop her.” - Rev. Pat Raimondo, Susan’s spiritual guide at her memorial service.
Many compare Susan to a lily. She had “a strong faith that, like the lilies, she had no anxiety about finding the resources to fulfill her dreams of inner and world peace”, a friend explains to Florida Today after Susan’s death. Susan’s friends also describe her as a compassionate person who “championed world and inner peace”.
“She radiated. No, more like sparkled. She always had a smile on her face.” - Holly Morgan, Susan’s friend.
“She was the glue that brought us together.” - Anne DuBois, Susan’s friend.
The night Susan is killed.
Susan was last seen at an Albertson's grocery store in Indian Harbor Beach, FL on the evening of December 27, 1988. Sometime between 4:30-5:30 am on the morning of December 28, 1988, a neighbor thought they heard a scream, followed by a gunshot. The neighbor reportedly thought nothing of it at the time.
Susan’s body is found by four friends.
On the morning of December 28, 1988, four of Susan’s friends arrived at her apartment around 8:30 am for their weekly spiritual meeting. When Susan failed to answer the doorbell, her friends peeked in her bedroom window. Inside, they saw Susan sprawled out on her bed, wearing her nightgown, covered in blood.
The investigation begins.
Once authorities arrive at Susan’s apartment, they note signs of forced entry to the back sliding door of the apartment. Investigators also determined that Susan had been shot once in the upper body, though there were no signs of a struggle and nothing was stolen from the apartment. Also inside the apartment, investigators noted a wine bottle and two wine glasses sitting on a tea towel in the kitchen, though they are unsure whether this is related to her death.
“How nobody saw anything, I find that hard to believe. I’m not planning to give up on it. There’s just so much I don’t know about her death. That’s the hardest part.” - Walter Kohler, Susan’s son.
Authorities were able to use a tracking dog to track Susan’s scent out of her apartment to the parking lot outside of her front door, leading investigators to believe that the individual responsible for Susan’s death fled the scene in a vehicle. In the following days, investigators would speak with neighbors, including the one who heard a scream and a gunshot the morning of Susan’s death. Investigators also speak with Susan’s next door neighbor, who claimed to have seen someone running away from the area in the early hours of the day she was killed, though he wasn’t able to get a clear view of the individual.
“You can go through the whole myriad of possibilities - that it was someone she knew who did it, that it was a stranger. You really can make every one fit.” - Walter Kohler, Susan’s son.
Where the case stands today.
“I read the paper. I look for parallels. I look for something in another homicide that might ring a bell. I’m a patient person. Someday I’ll find out what happened. It’s not that I have any clues or anything. It’s just a feeling.” - Walter Kohler, Susan’s son.
Today, Susan’s case remains unsolved, a true cold case. Authorities have never released information on whether they’ve received any leads and whether forensic evidence gives them any information, though it is clear that they have been unable to determine a motive or any suspects. If you have any information, please contact the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office at (321) 633-8413 or submit your tip anonymously through CrimeLine at (800) 423-TIPS (8477). There is currently a $5,000 reward being offered in Susan’s case.