Suzanne Marie Collins
(June 8, 1966 – July 12, 1985) was a Marine
Lance Corporal who was raped and murdered by Sedley Alley
on the morning of July 12, 1985. At the time of her murder she was stationed at Naval Air Station, Memphis
. Collins was a student undergoing training at the base, and was scheduled to graduate from avionics training on the day of her murder. She is buried in Arlington National Cemetery
Suzanne Collins was the daughter of Jack and Trudy Collins. She graduated from Robert E. Lee High School in Springfield, Virginia.
Abduction and murder
Alley, a civilian married to a military person, abducted Collins late in the evening of July 11, 1985 while she was jogging on the base. He transported her to nearby Orgill Park where he raped and murdered her and left her body in the park. Two Marines jogging near where Collins was abducted heard her scream and ran toward the sound. However, as they reached the scene, they saw Alley's car drive off. They reported to base security and accompanied officers on a tour of the base, looking for the car they had seen. Unsuccessful, they returned to their barracks
. Soon after returning to their quarters, however, the Marines were called back to the security office, where they identified Alley's car, which had been stopped by officers. Alley and his wife gave statements to the base security personnel accounting for their whereabouts. The security personnel were satisfied with Alley's story, and Alley and his wife returned to their on-base housing. The two Marine witnesses returned to the security office shortly after Alley and his wife drove off, where they disputed the couple's version of events, citing that the loud, distinct sounds made by the muffler on Alley's car matched those sounds they had heard prior to and during Collins' abduction. The security personnel indicated that since no one had yet been reported missing, there was nothing more that could be done. The Marines were thanked for their assistance and told to return to their barracks
Suzanne's body was found several hours later and Alley was immediately arrested by military police. He voluntarily gave a statement to the police, admitting to having killed Collins but giving a substantially false - and considerably more humane - account of the circumstances of the killing.
Sedley Alley's story was that his wife left to go to a Tupperware party, angering him. He drank two six-packs of beer and a bottle of wine. He told authorities that he had gone out for more liquor when his car accidentally hit Collins as she jogged near the air base. Alley's story is that he accidentally killed the young woman when she fell on a screwdriver he was holding as he was trying to help her; however, an autopsy revealed that her skull had been fractured with repeated beatings, there were no screwdriver wounds, and no wounds consistent with being hit by a car. In addition to a severe beating and numerous head traumas, Alley had repeatedly rammed a tree limb into her vagina with sufficient force to enter her abdomen and lacerate one of her lungs. She died of internal hemorrhaging and head injuries.
Trial and execution of Alley
In spite of his attempt to convince a jury that he had multiple personality disorder
, Alley was convicted on March 18, 1987 of murder in the first degree and was sentenced to death. He was also convicted of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated rape, for which he received consecutive forty-year sentences. He was scheduled to die by electrocution May 2, 1990, but was reprieved indefinitely by the state Court of Criminal Appeals.
A Shelby County judge denied Alley's initial request for state-funded DNA testing of 11 samples of physical evidence, saying he hadn't shown "reasonable probability" that he wouldn't have been prosecuted or convicted if the tests were in his favor.
After numerous appeals, Alley was executed by lethal injection at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, Tennessee, on the morning of June 28, 2006; he was pronounced dead at 2:12 a.m. The length of Alley's appeals process caused Collins' family to successfully work for limitations on groundless habeas corpus appeals.
The book Journey Into Darkness (ISBN 0-671-00394-1) by John E. Douglas dedicates three chapters to the life and murder of Suzanne Collins.