Netflix’s true-crime documentary “Girl in the Picture” has quickly captivated audiences with the layered and tragic story of Suzanne Sevakis, who was abducted as a child by Frank Floyd, and raised as his daughter. He sexually abused her, and forced her to marry him — and then she was killed in what Floyd claims was a hit-and-run accident in 1990. She was just 20 years old at the time of her death.
The doc, directed by Skye Borgman, unfolds in a gradual way as if viewers are investigating the crime themselves, leading to many shocking twists and turns. At first, audiences are told that the name of the woman who died was Tonya Hughes and that she had a child, Michael, with her husband Clarence. Then, viewers learn that they were known as Sharon and Warren Marshall while she attended high school, with Floyd acting as her father. But as the story unravels, multiple aliases of Floyd and Sevakis come to light and it’s revealed that he was her kidnapper — and that she never knew her true identity.
Though federal agents were eventually able to track down Floyd and put him in prison for the abduction of Sevakis’ son, Michael Hughes — and later place him on death row for the murder of Sevakis’ friend, Cheryl Commesso — the fact that the woman at the center of the case’s name was Suzanne Sevakis was not uncovered until one of her children, whom she had placed for adoption, provided DNA in 2014.
While “Girl in the Picture” successfully tells a complicated story, several questions remain unanswered about the life and untimely death of Sevakis, as well as her son Michael and kidnapper Floyd. Below, Variety attempts to provide answers.
Have Michael Hughes’ remains been found?
After Sevakis’ death, her 2-year-old son Michael was put into foster care once it was revealed that Floyd was not his father. In 1994, when Michael was 6 years old, Floyd kidnapped him from school by holding the principal hostage. Michael was never seen again, and Floyd was eventually arrested and put in prison on kidnapping charges. In 2014, Floyd confessed to killing Michael during an interview with FBI agents Scott Lobb and Nate Furr.
“I finally hit my fist down on the table. ‘How’d you kill him? Floyd, how’d you kill him?’” Lobb said in the documentary. “Waterworks turn off. ‘I shot him twice in the back of the head to make it real quick.’”
Floyd told the agents that Michael’s body was near the Oklahoma-Texas border, but the FBI did not find his remains, though Lobb said that they “gave it 110%.” The case is considered closed.
Is Frank Floyd still alive?
Floyd was sentenced to 52 years in prison for the kidnapping of Michael Hughes, and then sentenced to death in 1997 when police discovered that he had killed Commesso. According to his Wikipedia page, Floyd is still alive at 79 years old, and is currently imprisoned on death row at Union Correctional Institution in Florida.
How did Floyd make money while on the run for nearly 17 years?
According to “Girl in the Picture,” Floyd had been on the run for nearly 17 years when he was arrested for the kidnapping of Michael Hughes. After sexually assaulting a woman in 1973, Floyd failed to show up for his court date and had been a fugitive ever since, hence his many aliases. Something that is not explained in the documentary — perhaps because it is not known — is how exactly Floyd earned money for himself and Sevakis, particularly while she was attending high school in Georgia.
Jenny Fisher, a classmate of Sevakis’ who reveals that she was a gifted student with a full-ride scholarship to Georgia Tech, says during the documentary that Floyd asked her father for a loan on the first day they met. Once Sevakis becomes pregnant and they flee, it is explained that Sevakis eventually begins working in strip clubs in Florida and Oklahoma, the money from which likely went to Floyd.
Heather Lane, one of Sevakis’ friends at gentlemen’s club Mons Venus, says in the doc that Floyd was also pressuring Sevakis to do more than just dance to earn money. “She was standing outside at the door, and she was offering sex services to these men for $50,” Lane said of Sevakis. “She said, ‘Well, my dad told me to do it, and he bought me condoms.’ That was disgusting. I couldn’t believe that a man would put their daughter in that situation.”
Not much else is known about Floyd’s employment, although FBI agent Joe Fitzpatrick does mention that Floyd was employed in Louisville, Ky. for at least a short while, possibly as a painter, after kidnapping Michael. “No one had seen Michael,” Fitzpatrick said in “Girl in the Picture.” “They checked with both employments where he was presently employed, and where he was previously employed as a painter.”
What was the order of Suzanne Sevakis’ children, and who are their fathers?
One of the largest mysteries presented in “Girl in the Picture” is how many children Suzanne Sevakis had, when exactly they were born and who their fathers were. Investigative journalist Matt Birkbeck, who wrote the book “A Beautiful Child,” which led to the discovery of Sevakis’ true identity, said in the documentary that she had been pregnant three times: “Once in high school, the baby’s supposedly adopted, then it was Michael, then it was this third one who was given up for adoption in New Orleans. And that’s Megan.”
Sevakis’ high school friend Fisher recalled when she first got pregnant in high school, and said her plan was to go to Arizona and then place the baby for adoption. Sevakis was also pregnant in the late ’80s in Tampa, according to the doc, which could be when Michael was born. Megan was born in New Orleans in 1989 and placed for adoption, just one year before Sevakis’ death.
“Girl in the Picture” interviews Megan Dufresne, Sevakis’ birth daughter who gave the FBI DNA after hearing of Birkbeck’s book. Megan, who recently became a mother herself, hints in the documentary that Sevakis may have had even more children: “Becoming a parent gave me even more respect for my birth mother, because she gave up two children, if not more, knowing that it was better for the kids.”
But that supposition may be unlikely, since Sevakis seems to have given birth to three children within the span of a few years.
Very little is known about the first child whom Sevakis had in high school, though the Tampa Bay Times reported in 1997 that she had become pregnant with her boyfriend at the time. According to Screen Rant, the father of Michael Hughes has been speculated to be either Gregory Higgs or Kevin Brown, two men she had been dating around the time of the pregnancy. As for Megan’s father, his identity remains unknown, though Reddit users have speculated that it may be Floyd.
Why didn’t Suzanne’s biological parents try harder to find her and what happened to her siblings?
“Girl in the Picture” was able to nab interviews with Sevakis’ biological parents, Sandra Willet and Clifford Sevakis. The two were high-school sweethearts, and had Suzanne young — but they divorced shortly after Clifford returned from fighting in Vietnam. Willet then had two more daughters, Allison and Amy, with her next husband, but fell on rough times after they got divorced and a tornado destroyed her home. She met Floyd — who was going under the alias Brandon Cleo Williams at the time — at church in 1975, and he offered to help her take care of the children. When Willet was sent to jail for a month for writing a bad check, Floyd left with her children, dropping Allison and Amy off at an orphanage, but keeping Suzanne, who was the oldest.
In her interview in the doc, Willet claims that she was not able to get Suzanne back because Floyd was legally her stepfather. “If I had found some way to get help to get away from the whole situation, then it never would have happened,” she said. “And I was supposed to be her mother and protect her from that monster, and I didn’t.”
As for Cliff, he was contacted by social services and asked if he could adopt all three girls, but he didn’t feel he was able to at the time. “I was living with my parents, I was unemployed, I was 23 years old,” he said. “I just didn’t think I was going to be a good parent at that point. I was so kind of messed up from Vietnam.”
However, what the documentary doesn’t mention is that Suzanne also had a brother, Phillip, who was a 1-year-old at the time of their abduction by Floyd. He also went missing and was not located by Willet. According to Screen Rant, in 2019 a man came forward who had been adopted as a child and believed he may be Phillip. A DNA test later proved this to be the case, and it was revealed that Phillip had been adopted in North Carolina shortly after he went missing.
Several people in the documentary expressed their frustration that Suzanne’s biological parents had not tried harder to find her. Lane said, “I’m actually very angry at Sharon’s mom. I don’t believe for one second that because this was back in the day, that she couldn’t find her child… I just want to know why? Why didn’t she try harder?”
In addition, Megan’s adopted mother, Mary, revealed that she had attempted to contact Willet so that Megan could have a relationship with her, but Willet refused. “That didn’t go well. It’s that “I don’t care” attitude,” she said. “When you reach out to someone and they have no interest, that to me… you don’t care? You don’t want to know? What kind of person are you?”
However, Cliff maintains a relationship with Megan and her family, as is seen at the end of the documentary during Sevakis’ long-overdue memorial service.