Overview of Susan Osborne
"I'm sure we're not going to find them because of the evidence I have seen. We just need closure, we just need to get the person who took their lives." - Linda Anklam to WSFA.
“I’m hoping for answers. I’m hoping for justice, and I’m hoping to find them.” - Melissa Canfield, Susan’s sister-in-law, to WSFA12 in 2021.
Susan Osborne and her son Evan Chartrand moved from Michigan to Alabama while Susan was married to Evan’s father. The couple later divorced and Susan decided to remain in Alabama with Evan, despite all of her family living out of state. Susan was a private, independent person and devoted mother whose favorite past times were spending time with her children and fishing. Evan shared Susan’s love of fishing, and even made his own fishing lures.
“Witty,” “shy,” and “sweet” are just a few of the words that are frequently used by friends and family to describe Evan. In a comment left on the Secrets True Crime Facebook page, Evan’s 4th grade teacher said “the world was truly a better place with him in it” and “he was a light in a dark world.”
Susan later began a relationship with another man and gave birth to her daughter. The relationship between Susan and her daughter’s father ended around May of 2009. It was during this time that Hollie Morris moved in across the street from Susan in Prattville and the pair became instant friends.
“She was one of the types of friends that if she ever said she was going to do something, she did it. She’s very dependable, always there.” - Hollie Morris to Secrets True Crime Podcast.
Susan, unfortunately, didn’t have the best track record with men and after the relationship with her daughter’s father ended, she decided to take a break from dating and focus on her kids. For several years, Susan did just that. She spent her time with Evan, her daughter, and their two dogs, Schnook and Sugar. However, in 2013, while she and Evan were spending the day doing what they loved - fishing - Susan met Jerry Osborne, an Air Force Veteran. Susan quickly began to like Osborne, and he was wonderful with Evan, who did not have a relationship with his birth father. After about a year the pair were married on January 25, 2014, and Susan and Evan moved into the Holtville home that Osborne had purchased prior to their marriage.
Though Susan’s friends and family said initially Osborne seemed nice and down to earth, in hindsight, there were a lot of red flags. In fact, at the time Susan and Evan went missing, Susan’s family had only met him a few times. By 2015, Susan had begun to distance herself from her family, and they would later find out it was because Osborne was listening to all of her phone calls. The last time Susan’s brother Brian and his wife Missy saw Susan and the kids in person was in January of 2015, when Susan, Osborne, and the kids came to visit her ill father. The group planned to go ice fishing, but shortly before they were all supposed to meet back up, Susan sent a text saying they had to go back to Alabama. Missy told Secrets True Crime they didn’t even get to say a proper goodbye.
In 2016, Susan confided to her friend Hollie that she’d discovered Osborne was having affairs with men. She’d found a photo of him along with an ad on Craigslist, and numerous emails between him and other men. Susan told Hollie she was getting a plan together to leave; she needed a job so the kids would have insurance and a place to live. Hollie expressed her concern for Susan and the kids’ safety on numerous occasions and encouraged Susan to leave. However, this plan would never come to fruition, as Susan would later tell Hollie they’d worked through their issues.
Susan’s mother Linda came to Alabama to visit with Susan and the kids for Mother’s Day weekend in 2017, and by all accounts, it was a nice, enjoyable visit. On May 16, 2017, Susan and Osborne helped Hollie and her fiancé finish packing for their move to Key West before seeing them off. After Hollie left, Susan called to find out whether she’d had her mail forwarded and offered to pick it up until Hollie could get settled.
Susan’s daughter lived with her father during this period and Susan had visitation rights. On May 26, 2017, Susan saw her daughter for the last time. That same day, she called Hollie to tell her that Evan had missed school because he was sick, and asked if it was okay for her to send her mail the following Tuesday since Monday was Memorial Day. Susan and Hollie spoke regularly and had a casual phone conversation on May 28, 2017, and exchanged a few texts on May 29, 2017. These would be the last known communications with Susan. Investigators have stated there has been no activity on Susan or Evan’s phone since May 29, 2017.
Over the next month, Susan’s family and Hollie would continue to try to reach Susan and Evan with no success, and by July their phones had been disconnected. Neither Susan’s family nor Hollie had a number for Osborne. Linda even tried to mail a letter to her daughter, but it was returned as undeliverable in July. Everyone had begun to worry about Susan and Evan, but they all described Susan as a private person, and no one wanted to upset her by calling the police. However, when Susan’s family contacted Hollie and a friend of Evan’s from school and discovered no one else had spoken to them, they contacted the police and a missing person report was filed with the Elmore County Sheriff’s Office on July 29, 2017.
The following Monday, July 31, 2017, Capt. Chris Ogden and Lt. Troy Evans of the Elmore County Sheriff’s Office went to the Osborne home to perform a welfare check. When they arrived, they found Susan’s vehicle in the driveway. When Osborne answered the door, he stated he had been cleaning. The investigators noted the strong smell of incense, and that Osborne also had a burn barrel going in the backyard. The investigators entered and Osborne told them that he and Susan had a fight on Memorial Day and that she and Evan had left with an unknown man in a truck. Osborne thought they were headed to Birmingham. Even though Osborne claimed the man never got out of the vehicle, he described the man in detail; 6 feet tall with a beard and sunglasses. He would later add that when he left to visit his parents, Susan and Evan returned and removed all their belongings and Susan vandalized the home by spray painting vulgarities on the floors and walls.
Capt. Ogden walked out back with Osborne to look at the burn barrel in the backyard while Lt. Evans remained in the home. Lt. Evans stated while he was waiting he noticed the bottom of the walls had been poorly painted. He scanned the room and saw an open pantry with several 5-gallon buckets of paint on the floor.
After they finished speaking with Osborne they left the home. Hollie called the investigators that afternoon and gave them all the information she knew. Between what was observed in the home during the welfare check and Hollie’s conversation, they obtained a search warrant the same day and returned to the house.
During the search, Osborne admitted to burning some of Evan’s belongings, including his bed. They noted the home had undergone a fairly significant remodel recently. They knew from speaking with Linda that the home had hardwood floors at the time she visited in May, but at some point after that, Osborne had installed carpeting, painted, scrapped his old security system, and installed a new home security system with cameras. They also located several burn piles in the backyard. Using luminol, they discovered blood evidence, which Sheriff Bill Franklin described later in an interview with True Crime Daily as indicative that something violent had occurred, not something along the lines of a finger cut. In that same interview, Sheriff Franklin confirmed they’d seized electronics from the home. Although he wouldn’t state exactly what was on the computer they’d seized, he did say the search history was not one a typical person would have. Unfortunately, it turned out that the blood samples taken from the home were too degraded to prepare a DNA profile.
Throughout the investigation, it was discovered that Osborne’s father had taken Sugar and Schnook to an animal shelter on June 1, 2017, and even told an employee that Sugar’s name was Susan. Osborne had begun purchasing supplies to remodel the home by June 4, 2017. On July 1, 2017 - 37 days after Susan and Evan disappeared - Osborne filed for divorce. The divorce was ultimately granted on November 15, 2017, after his attorney filed a motion for default judgment. Osborne continued to pay child support to the father of Susan’s daughter and kept her on his insurance for at least a year, if not longer, after Susan and Evan disappeared. There are inconsistencies in Osborne’s story; for example, he changed the type of vehicle in which Susan and Evan left, as well as the color of spray paint she allegedly used to vandalize the home.
Susan’s family and friends fear the worst, as they claim there’s no way Susan would have willingly left her daughter behind.
“She would not just disappear. She wouldn’t have left (her 10-year-old daughter). She wouldn’t go without talking to her and seeing her.” - Hollie Morris to The Wetumpka Herald in 2018.
Where the case stands today. The investigation into Susan and Evan’s disappearance is ongoing. Multiple areas around the home and nearby have been searched several times. Although Sheriff Franklin has stated that Jerry Osborne is a person of interest, and the only person of interest, he has never been arrested or charged in connection with Susan and Evan’s disappearance. Osborne continues to maintain he had nothing to do with their disappearance.
"It bothers me every day knowing that he is free." - Linda Anklam to True Crime Daily.