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Harold Suggs was subsequently charged with stealing Chism's car, a Pontiac Grand Prix. 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. Chism's 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 Chism had let him borrow the car, but when 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.
Orange County Sheriff's Office