When Michael and David Sadusky were 16 and 17 and their brother Joseph was in his 20s, tragedy struck their family.
Debra Sadusky, the only girl in the family, went missing and was never seen again. Now, more than 40 years later, her siblings want her cold case reopened.
The Saduskys have been residents of Medford since about the time their daughter and sister disappeared. Debra “Debbie” Sadusky was 20 years old when she died sometime around Aug. 25, 1980.
A graduate of Shawnee High School, she was part of the National Honor Society; a drum and bugle corps majorette; a cast member in multiple school plays; and a Shawnee volunteer.
Debra went on to pursue secondary education at then-Glassboro State College, then transferred to Stockton University after her first semester. According to Michael, she lived in Ocean City and worked at a drugstore there.
As reported by Michael and an Aug. 27 Press story, the night Debra went missing, she left her purse with a friend at Meral’s Inn and said she would be back in a half hour.
She never returned.
Days after she disappeared, Debra’s body was found in a capsized, 19-foot cabin cruiser at the Pier IV Marine across from Meral’s. Although she was covered with cuts and bruises and clothed in only a bra, an autopsy ruled her death a drowning.
Michael Sadusky said that after a certain point that night his sister’s movements are still a mystery. At a time without cell phones or video, there were no images of Debra. And like her family, the New Jersey State Police were stumped.
“They never really found out what exactly happened,” Michael said. “There’s a lot of loose ends that were unanswered questions in reference to everything that happened.”
The case went cold.
A brown-haired man with a bandage on his nose was alleged to have left the bar with Debra, but he was not identified and claimed he never knew her. He also refused a polygraph test, according to Michael.
The Sadusky brothers hired private investigator William “Bill” Trump, who encouraged David and Michael to write the state police a letter requesting that Debra’s case be reopened. Meanwhile, Trump said he questioned people at Meral’s who claimed they knew nothing about the disappearance or the discovery of Debra’s body just across from the bar.
“Everybody always thought there was something not right about the whole situation,” Michael acknowledged.
Debra’s mother and father died without knowing what happened to their daughter, but now Michael hopes that reopening the case will bring the family some closure.