Crime

Their 5-year-old was killed in plastic bag, buried. Could they leave their Kentucky prisons?

A 1989 family photo of then 5-year-old Alexandria Suleski, who was missing from her home in Radcliff, Ky.
A 1989 family photo of then 5-year-old Alexandria Suleski, who was missing from her home in Radcliff, Ky. Family Photo

A now estranged couple sentenced to life for murdering their 5-year-old daughter and hiding her body in a park could walk out of their Kentucky prisons if a parole board approves.

Thomas Suleski and his ex-wife Roxanne Suleski have been in prison since 1994 for their roles in the murder, burial and later disposal of 5-year-old Alex Suleski. They were married when the girl died.

The case drew national attention and a widely-publicized multistate search. The remains of Alex's body have never been found.

They received life sentences with the chance for parole after 25 years. Roxanne Suleski, the stepmother of Alex, has her first parole hearing scheduled for Tuesday at the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women in Pewee Valley. Thomas Suleski's parole hearing will be at the end of the month at Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in Oldham County.

In October 1989, the Suleskis told the FBI their daughter had gone outside and never returned. Her disappearance led to a search for the girl that spanned several years. Her smiling face became familiar to thousands of people throughout the region, state and country. At the time, Thomas Suleski was stationed at Fort Knox.

891030ThomasSuleskicb25
From October 1989, Thomas Suleski, the father of Alexandria Suleski, 5, who was missing, sat on the steps of his home in the Duvall Mobile Home Park in Radcliff. Charles Bertram cbertram@herald-leader.com

Four years after the disappearance of Alex, Roxanne's daughter, Nyssa, came forward and told federal agents she saw her mother kill Alex. Nyssa, who was 12 at the time of Alex's disappearance, told the FBI she saw her mother put Alex in a plastic garbage bag and seal the top after Alex vomited on the bathroom floor on Oct. 25, 1989.

Roxanne.jpg
Roxanne Suleski

According to FBI agent Phillip Lewzader in his trial testimony, Nyssa said her mother later checked on Alex and found the child defecated in the bag. An angered Roxanne Suleski resealed the bag. She then put the sealed bag containing the child inside another bag and sealed it.

About 24 hours later, Roxanne told Nyssa that Alex was no longer breathing.

Afterward, the father buried the body at nearby Otter Creek Park. He returned to the park two years later to dig up the remains. He found only the skull, smashed it, and scattered the remains outside Kentucky.

The evidence against the Suleskis emerged when Lewzader testified about the content of a secretly recorded conversation between Thomas Suleski and Nyssa. During the conversation recorded by Nyssa, Thomas Suleski implicated his wife and admitted his own involvement.

FBI agents also alleged the Suleskis abused Alex on a regular basis. Lewzader described how on one occasion, Roxanne Suleski punished Alex by winding an elastic bandage around her face — leaving a small opening in her mouth — and forcing her to eat jalapeno peppers.

Thomas (1).jpg
Thomas Suleski Luther Luckett Correctional Complex

The Suleskis moved to California in 1990 until their 1993 arrest after Nyssa told the FBI what she witnessed.

They were found guilty of murder, kidnapping, evidence tampering, criminal abuse. They were also found guilty of unlawful transaction with a minor because they forced Nyssa and their then 13-year-old daughter, Dawn Suleski, to lie to investigators.

Thomas, now 60, and Roxanne, 58, filed for divorce in April 2001 and it was finalized in October of that same year.

Parole board members will hear from victims during a Monday hearing prior to Roxanne Suleski's parole hearing. It has not been disclosed who will speak at the victim hearing.

Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.

  Comments