Suzanne Sevakis’ bright future was destroyed by a kidnapper who first presented himself asher father and then demanded to be her husband.
While she wanted to become an aerospace engineer, he forced her into a life of sexual abuse, sex trafficking and unwanted pregnancies before she died under mysterious circumstances.
Franklin Delano Floyd — a man with a history of kidnapping and robbery under his belt — used an alias and married Sevakis’s mother Sandi Chipman in 1974. Then, when Chipman was serving a 30-day sentence for writing bad checks in 1975, Floyd kidnapped all four of her kids. He put Sevakis’ brother up for adoption, dropped her sisters off with a social services agencies and kept Sevakis, the oldest at around 5 years old, as his “daughter.”
But he didn’t treat her as such. The new Netflix documentary “Girl in the Picture” — which details the complicated case — shows how Floyd sexually abused and sexually trafficked his victim for years. Despite her abuse, Sevakis had big dreams of becoming an aerospace engineer after attending Georgia Tech, where she was accepted on a full scholarship.
But Floyd never allowed her to attend: She got pregnant during her senior year in high school and Floyd forced her to give up her college admission, have the child and put it up for adoption. Sevakis and Floyd then moved to Tampa, where he insisted she work as a stripper under the name Tonya Tadlock while he adopted the name Clarence Hughes. There, she had a son, Michael Hughes.
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They’s soon be on the move again, however. Floyd killed Sevakis’ friend and neighbor, Cheryl Ann Commesso inside the couple’s trailer and they fled. (Commesso’s remains weren’t found until 1995, according to the Tampa Bay Times, and Floyd was eventually convicted of her murder and sentenced to death.) After the murder, Floyd and Sevakis got married in New Orleans under their aliases and, while they were there, Sevakis gave birth to a daughter, who Floyd forced Sevakis to give up for adoption.
Then in 1990 — when she was just 20 — she died in Oklahoma. Floyd told the hospital that she had been struck in a hit and run. Sevakis’ son Michael Hughes was with them, but ended up in foster care after investigators learned Floyd’s true identity and status as a federal fugitive wanted since 1973 for a parole violation stemming from a previous bank robbery conviction.
In all, Sevakis had three children. What happened to them?
Michael Hughes was 2 when his mother died. Floyd — who authorities eventually determined was not his biological father — was arrested and eventually lost all custody of the boy, as The Oklahoman reported in 2016.
Michael was then put into the care of foster parents, Ernest and Merle Bean, who adored him so much that they wanted to adopt him. Their adoption paperwork was underway when Floyd kidnapped the 6-year-old boy and the school principal at gunpoint from the child’s school in September 1994. Michael was 6 years old. Floyd left the school principal handcuffed to a tree and disappeared with Hughes.
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When he was arrested without the boy, he claimed that the child was still alive. He only admitted to killing Michael — by shooting him twice in the back of the head — in 2014 while on death row in Florida for Commesso’s murder.
Megan Dufrense was born during Sevakis’ trip to New Orleans and is featured in the new Netflix documentary. She noted that she always knew she was adopted but did not learn about her mother’s story until she was a bit older. Her adopted mother told her about her connection to this devastating true crime case when she was a junior in high school.
“The more I learned, the angrier and sadder I got about everything,” she told the film’s producers.
Mary Dufrense, Megan’s mother, noted that she met Sevakis and Floyd (who were using the aliases Tonya and Clarence Hughes) while the former was pregnant and said that Floyd seemed adamant about making money off the child.
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“He controlled the whole conversation with her,” she reflected.
While the identity of Sevakis’ third child remains a mystery, Floyd did tell the FBI in 2014 that his dead “wife” Tonya Hughes was actually his kidnapping victim, Sevakis. At that point, Cliff Sevakis — Sevakis’ biological father — finally learned what happened to his daughter after she disappeared with Floyd.
Cliff and Megan got in touch and have maintained a relationship.
“I can’t talk to Suzanne but I can talk to Megan and that will, that will do,” Cliff said in the documentary.
Megan is now a mother and she named her son, Michael, after her slain brother.
“Michael didn’t get to live out his name and I wanted his name to keep going,” she said.