IN her 2016 memoir Settle for More, Megyn Kelly recalls the nightly discussions around the dinner table with her parents and siblings at their home in upstate Delmar, N.Y. “Dad would ask each of us, ‘What’s the report?’ We’d have to tell him what we’d learned or done that day. When it was my turn, I would prattle on. ‘Make her shut up!’ my brother and sister would plead.”
All these years later, Megyn (whose tenure as the new high-priced on-air personality at NBC News — and future cohost of Today— has gotten off to a rocky start) remains strong-willed and outspoken. That does not, however, include discussing the skeletons in her own closet, including a controversial divorce from her first husband — and the heartbreaking backstory about her troubled older sister.
“Megyn is certainly her own person; she’s not afraid to say what’s on her mind,” an insider tells Star. “But as big as she’s gotten, she probably does want to keep some controversial personal subjects off-limits.”
One of the subjects Megyn, 46, seems to have kept at arm’s length is the tragic life of her older sister, Suzanne Kelly — in fact, she seems to have kept Suzanne herself at arm’s length for a number of years. Megyn paints a rosy picture of their relationship in Settle for More, though it’s limited to their childhood years, with an anecdote about getting a stuffed bear from her. “God, how I loved that bear,” Megyn wrote. “And I loved Suzanne for giving it to me.” Sadly, as Star has exclusively learned, that affection appears to have waned in their adult years, as Suzanne, now 53, started down a dark path — and was trapped in a shocking marriage that seems more like the plot of a pulp novel.
Megyn was the 17-year-old maid of honor when Suzanne, a schoolteacher, wed Colorado-born David Crossley, a bank employee, in Delmar in July 1988. Over the years, the couple had three children and moved back and forth between New York and Virginia. Suzanne’s world was rocked in the spring of 2003, when David — who had been secretly struggling with his gender identity — informed her that he “intended to ‘transition’ from male to female,” according to divorce papers Suzanne filed in Chesterfield County, Va. Taking the name Danielle, Crossley — who by now had entered the education field as a high school principal — finished the necessary treatment and completed the transition the following year.
Suzanne asked for temporary custody of the couple’s minor children. But when the divorce was finalized, it was Danielle who was awarded physical custody of the kids, likely due to assertions she made — which Suzanne apparently did not contest — that opened a window into the secret hell Megyn’s sister had been living. Danielle claimed that Suzanne had “abused drugs and alcohol” and “incurred debts which negatively impacted the [couple’s] finances.” (Indeed, they had filed for bankruptcy in 2003.) And, as Star has learned, things would only get worse for Suzanne in the years to come.
“Suzanne had broken her ankle in 2000, and unfortunately, it led her to rely on drugs to ease the pain,” Peter Pappas, a car-dealership finance manager who dated Megyn’s sister in Virginia for three years after her split from Danielle, tells Star. “Obviously the pressure of what she endured in her marriage just made things worse. I saw it firsthand in the years we were together; it got to the point where Suzanne would do just about anything to get drugs. I had to take her to a detox center multiple times.”
Suzanne was living with Peter when their relationship imploded. “I discovered she had stolen my credit cards and forged my checks,” he claims. “I had had enough.” Suzanne moved out, and Peter alleges he was forced to take her to court in an attempt to recoup his money. “Megyn showed up in court with an attorney to help her sister,” he recalls. “It was agreed Megyn would pay me back the money — but she ended up writing me a check for a couple hundred dollars, when Suzanne actually owed me about $5,000. I tore up Megyn’s check and threw it away.”
If court and police records obtained by Star are any indication, as Suzanne’s troubles grew over the following years, Megyn’s assistance seemed to dwindle — even though she had been earning millions. While moving between a number of rented residences in Virginia, Suzanne racked up $16,300 in still-unpaid traffic citations and debts to various businesses and individuals. Things got so bad that she was arrested for petit larceny in September 2012 after stealing two $10 watches from a Target store — and she was arrested again on the same charge exactly a year later after shoplifting $26 worth of clothes and jewelry from a Walmart.
For that conviction, Suzanne spent the nights of Oct. 18–20, 2013, in the Chesterfield County jail. Ironically, she began serving her sentence just days after she had been evicted from her apartment, leaving her homeless. “We had tried to get her to pay her back rent, but she gave endless excuses,” the complex manager tells Star. “She finally skipped out one night, one step ahead of the sheriff. She’d trashed the apartment and left a bunch of her belongings behind.”
An upstate New York newspaper reported in 2015 that Suzanne was back living in the Kelly family hometown of Delmar (mom Linda still lives there; father Edward died of a heart attack when Megyn was 15). “I would think it’s best for Suzanne, considering what she’s been through, to finally be back home,” says Peter Pappas. As to whether or not Megyn had abandoned her sister during her toughest times, Peter adds: “I certainly wouldn’t be shocked if Megyn had disowned her at one point and washed her hands of the whole situation. I hate to think of the road Suzanne went down.”