The case is worthy of a Stephen King thriller. On April 25, 1990, a young woman with blonde hair was found unconscious on the side of a road in Oklahoma City. Visibly the victim of a hit and run, she was rushed to hospital and was soon identified. This is Tonya Hughes, a 21-year-old stripper, mother of a little Michael, 2 years old. Her husband, an almost fifty-year-old named Clarence Hughes, comes to her bedside. But after five days between life and death, Tonya dies from her injuries…
Suspected of having played a part in the death of his wife, Clarence Hughes sees himself withdrawing custody of Michael, who is placed in foster care. Feeling threatened by Hughes, the boy’s adoptive parents give him a DNA test. This reveals, to their surprise, that Clarence Hughes is not Michael’s biological father. At the same time, the authorities contact the mother of Tonya Hughes to announce the death of her daughter. But on the phone, she is categorical: her daughter, Tonya Hughes, died more than 20 years earlier at the age of 18 months. But then, who is really the young woman who died in the hospital?
Tonya Hughes or Sharon Marshall?
We have to wait until 1994 to have a first element of response. On September 12 of that year, Clarence Hughes shows up at the school of the one he calls his son, Michael, and kidnaps him. The story is relayed on television and seeing the face of “Tonya”, a certain Jenny Fisher recognizes her best friend from high school: Sharon Marshall. At the time, Sharon was a promising teenager but suffered from an abusive father, Warren Marshall of his name. At the same time, the authorities discover that when “Tonya” died, her husband, Clarence Hughes, collected life insurance on the social security number of a certain Franklin Floyd. But who is Clarence Hughes really? Is Tonya’s real name really Sharon? And what about Franklin Floyd?
One thing leading to another, investigators understand that Clarence Hughes is one of the false identities of Franklin Floyd, a sex criminal convicted multiple times, but on the run since 1973. Two months after Michael’s kidnapping, Floyd was arrested in Louisville, Kentucky. However, no trace of the little boy. The investigation into his disappearance is still ongoing to this day, but Floyd admitted in an interview with the FBI in 2015 to having murdered him with two bullets to the head on the same day of the abduction. The boy’s body was never found.
From father to husband
During this same interview, facing agents Scott Lobb and Nate Furr, Franklin Floyd finally lifts the veil on the true identity of Tonya Hughes. He says he married, in the 1970s, a mother named Sandi Chipman. Sharon, real name Suzanne Marie Sevakis, was one of his four children. Floyd confesses to having taken advantage of a short stay in prison in Chapman to kidnap the children. He would then have released three of them, but kept Suzanne to raise her as his daughter under another name: Sharon Marshall. But in adolescence, the latter became pregnant by her boyfriend. Floyd therefore decided to marry her and change his identity: this is how they became Clarence and Tonya Hughes. Note that one of Suzanne’s brothers, Phillip, was found in 2019.
Thirty years after the death of Suzanne Marie Sevakis, Franklin Floyd denies any involvement in her murder. He is currently on death row at Union Correctional Institution, Florida, for the murder of one Cheryl Ann Commesso and the kidnapping of Michael Anthony Hughes.
Suzanne Marie Sevakis © DR