Details of Disappearance
Chism was last seen in Orlando, Florida on February 5, 1988. He left his home in the 7900 block of Albania Avenue and went to the Altamonte Mall, where he used the mall's phone to call his parents and girlfriend. His parents lived in Dayton, Ohio at the time; his girlfriend was in Irvine, Kentucky. He never arrived home and has never been heard from again.
Harold Suggs was subsequently charged with stealing Chism's car, a blue Pontiac Grand Prix with the Ohio license plate number 823NON. He was seen in Starke, Florida, 130 miles northwest of Orlando, on the day after Chism's disappearance, driving a car matching the description of Chism's and wearing a jacket similar to one that belonged to Chism.
Three weeks after Chism went missing, police found his car with Suggs inside it, and he tried to run when he saw them. Chism's eyeglasses, books and jacket were inside the car, and there was blood in the backseat.
A radio, cassette player, citizen's band radio and radar detector were missing from the vehicle, and it had been driven about 2,000 miles since Chism had disappeared.
Nearby, in a dumpster, were Chism's bloodstained shirt and other clothes, as well as a bloodstained crowbar. His girlfriend's phone number and a bank deposit slip were in the shirt pocket, and DNA testing proved the blood was his.
When questioned, Suggs at first claimed he lived with Chism and that Chism had let him borrow the car, but he was unable to provide an accurate address. He changed his story and said he'd met Chism at a bar in Orlando and they'd decided to get an apartment together.
Suggs had no permanent address at the time of his arrest and he has used numerous aliases in the past. Police believe he murdered Chism, but he has never been charged in connection with his disappearance, and the auto theft charge was dropped after a key witness was unable to testify.
Chism played piano in a local gospel group called Loretta Carter and the Sounds of Praise at the time of his disappearance. He was planning to leave Orlando in March 1988 and move back to Ohio to work with his father in a ministry. Foul play is suspected in his case, which remains unsolved.