Cold Case Update: 2000 Disappearance of Alison Thresher Investigated as Homicide; The Search for Her Remains Continues

Detectives from the Montgomery County Department of Police – Cold Case Unit continue to investigate the disappearance and believed to be the homicide of 45-year-old Alison Thresher of Bethesda that occurred in 2000.  Today, investigators are releasing information that they have received about where Thresher may have been buried and are asking anyone with possible information about this case to come forward to police.

Summary of Past Press Releases

Alison Thresher was last seen by her parents on the night of May 23, 2000.  Her disappearance was reported to the Montgomery County Department of Police by her sister on May 25, 2000, after her place of employment, the Washington Post, notified her family that Thresher had not been to work for two days (May 24 and May 25).  Thresher, who resided in an apartment on Sangamore Road in Bethesda, left behind her twelve-year-old daughter Hannah and her ten-year-old son Sam.

Detectives began to investigate Alison’s disappearance as suspicious.  Developments over the next eight months furthered the investigation and in February 2001, the Police Department announced that the missing person case was being investigated as a homicide.  At the time, investigators were unable to develop a suspect based on available evidence.

Over the next approximately 18 years, detectives continued to investigate the circumstances surrounding Thresher’s disappearance and on April 12, 2018, the Police Department, in a press conference and in a press release, named Fernando Asturizaga, age 51, as a person of interest in Thresher’s murder.  At the time of this announcement, Asturizaga was incarcerated and serving an over 100-year sentence at the Western Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland, for the sexual victimization of Alison Thresher’s daughter, Hannah, that had occurred from approximately 1999 to 2001.

At approximately 8:45 p.m. on April 12, the day that the Police Department announced that Asturizaga was a person of interest in Thresher’s murder, Asturizaga was found unresponsive in his jail cell by a correctional officer and was pronounced deceased.  Asturizaga’s death was ruled a suicide.

New Information

Since Asturizaga’s death, detectives have continued to investigate this case and have received credible information that Asturizaga murdered Thresher and buried her remains somewhere in the area of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – Beltsville Agricultural Research Center located on Baltimore Avenue in Beltsville.

Detectives have searched over 300 acres in that area and have not located any human remains.  As this area is frequented by hikers, investigators are asking anyone who may have been in this area, and who may have discovered or noted anything unusual in the area that may pertain to this case, to please call them at 240-773-5070.

Contact Information for Cold Case Unit

Major Crimes Detectives are urging anyone with information about the murder of Alison Thresher to call the Unit at 240-773-5070.

Alison Thresher