Charles Gary Sullivan: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

charles gary sullivan

Washoe County Charles Gary Sullivan and Julia Woodward, who was murdered

Charles Gary Sullivan is a northern Arizona man who is accused in the 1979 murder of a young woman in Nevada who was bludgeoned to death with a rock in what was a horrific crime scene. Now an Arizona television station is reporting that authorities are investigating Sullivan as a possible serial killer.

Charles Sullivan is 73 years old. Federal authorities took him into custody in Arizona, according to ABC15. The television station reports that Sullivan is accused in the cold case murder of Julia Woodward in Reno, Nevada. An August 2019 grand jury indictment, previously sealed, accuses Sullivan of killing Woodward with a rock.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Authorities Are Investigating Sullivan in Multiple Homicide Cases, Reports Say

charles gary sullivan

MugshotCharles Gary Sullivan

Is Charles Gary Sullivan a serial killer? That’s what authorities are trying to find out, according to ABC15 reporters Nicole Valdes and Jeffrey Popovich, who broke the story about his arrest.

The television station reported on November 15, 2019 that Sullivan stands accused of one homicide – that of Woodward – but is also under investigation in “multiple homicide investigations involving vulnerable young women.”

Luke Garrison, a producer for ABC15, wrote on Twitter, “Suspected serial killer arrested in Arizona. This dates back decades. This is going to be a BIG story for a long time.”

2. Julia Woodward Was Murdered Near Reno, Nevada Through Blunt Force Trauma

julia woodward

Washoe Co SheriffJulia Woodward

In 2015, Washoe County Sheriff’s Department featured the death of Julia Woodward as its “Cold Case of the Month.”

“Thirty-six years ago today, the body of twenty-one year old Julia Woodward was found murdered in a remote area in the foothills of Hungry Valley, approximately fifteen miles north of Reno. It was determined that Julia Woodward’s cause of death was blunt force trauma,” a news release from the department said.

Julia Woodward “was living in San Rafael California with her parents just prior to her murder. Her parents told detectives that Julia Woodward was traveling to Lake Tahoe / Reno in seek of employment,” authorities wrote.

3. Woodward Was Last Seen Alive at an Airport; Another Young Woman Was Found Not Far From the Woodward Murder Scene

jeannie smith

Jeannie Smith, whose body was found near the spot where Julia Woodward was found.

The scene of Woodward’s murder was horrific. Her “eyes were sealed shut with bandaids, her legs were zip-tied, and a cloth had been used as a gag,” ABC15 reported. It appeared rocks were the murder weapon.

“Julia was last seen alive at the San Francisco airport on February 1, 1979; by her friend who witnessed her enter the airport terminal. Detectives are searching for potential witnesses who may have had contact with her in Lake Tahoe or Reno, before she was discovered murdered on March 24, 1979, in Washoe County.”

At the time of the 2015 news release, Washoe County Cold Case Detectives were actively investigating Woodward’s murder.

KOLO-TV reported that a woman named Jenny Smith was found dead in the same area of Hungry Valley as Woodward, although Sullivan has not been accused in that death. It appears the station means Jeannie Smith.

The Washoe County Sheriff’s Department cold case page says of Jeannie Smith: “On November 02, 1979 the skeletal remains of Jeannie Smith, age 17, were found in Lemmon Valley, Nevada, North of Reno. She died as a result of blunt force trauma. Her remains were found in a shallow grave about 1 mile from where Julia Woodward had been discovered in March of the same year.”

Authorities added: “Smith was last seen on October 28, 1978, at the Circus-Circus Hotel in Reno, Nevada. She had been a reported missing person from Reno Police.”

You can see a list of all Washoe County cold cases here. Several others involve young women.

4. Sullivan Is Married & His Wife Plans to Stand by Him, Reports Say But He Has a Criminal History

julia woodward

Julie Woodward cold case information.

ABC15 reported that Sullivan is married, and his wife doesn’t believe the allegations.

“She loves her husband, and she says she’s convinced and told me that he would never do such a thing, and she is going to defend her husband,” Leilah Duncan, a neighbor, told the television station.

KOLO-TV reported that Sullivan has a criminal history from Eureka, California that dates back to 2007. That case involved a female hitchhiker.

Sullivan was accused of picking her up along California 20 in Nevada County. She escaped, and Sullivan was given a prison term of just under four years but was paroled to Blythe, California, the television station reported.

The appellate court decision in that case says that Charles Gary Sullivan picked up a hitchhiker and “drove her to a secluded location with the promise of showing her a hidden vein of turquoise. After hiking along a creek bed and up a tree-lined embankment, defendant handcuffed the woman, zip-tied her wrists and ankles, ordered her to lie on the ground.”

He was accused of telling her, “[T]he only thing that’s going to be involved is sex. We’re just going to be out here for a few days having fun[.]” She pleaded with him but he threatened to “pummel [her] or knock [her] out” if she continued to look at him, the court records say, “explaining that he did not want her to ‘memorize’ his face.”

At one point, he “hiked back to his van to get something,” and she “was able to cut the zip-ties on her ankles with a pocket knife she had and then escape to the main road, where she was rescued by two men driving by on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV).”

A 2007 story in the Times-Standard quoted Capt. Ron Smith with the Nevada County Sheriff’s Department as saying that the victim “didn’t get any bad vibes” about Sullivan when Sullivan picked her up in his van. She managed to slip her feet out of restraints and flee. He was 61 years old and from Pollock Pines at the time.

The appellate court decision provides other chilling details of that attack.

“The victim, A.E., testified that after attending her aunt’s funeral in Utah, she decided to hitchhike to her sister’s home in Yuba City, California. A truck driver gave her a ride to the junction of Interstate 80 and Highway 20, outside of Truckee, where A.E. slept that night,” it says. “The following morning, she stood along the westbound side of Highway 20 holding a piece of cardboard on which she had written ‘Yuba City.'”

That’s when Sullivan, “who was driving eastbound on Highway 20, made a U-turn to pick A.E. up. He stated he would take her as far as Nevada City. A.E. agreed and got into the front passenger seat. As he drove, defendant told her about a vein of turquoise near Bowman Lake, not far from where they were, and said he had been taking the turquoise and selling it for $75 a pound. A.E. agreed to let defendant take her to the turquoise vein.”

He drove to the lake, “parked his minivan near a bridge, and said they could walk to the turquoise vein from there. He took a fanny pack and they hiked along a riverbed until defendant led A.E. down a path surrounded by trees. When she stopped to tie her shoe, defendant came up from behind, grabbed her right shoulder, and pointed a handgun at her head,” the documents say.

“Telling A.E. that, if she did what he said, she would not get hurt, defendant directed her to lie on her stomach. He then placed her arms behind her back and zip-tied her wrists together. After moving her to another spot on the ground, defendant straddled her back, fastened her wrists with handcuffs, removed her boots, and zip-tied her ankles together.”

She used a pocket knife that she carried to cut the zip ties and escape.

5. Sullivan Is Being Held in a Nevada Jail on a Charge of ‘Open Murder’

Sullivan jail booking record

According to Washoe County Jail records, Sullivan is being held in that jail on an accusation of “open murder.”

He was booked on November 15, 2019, records show. According to a Nevada public defender’s office, “An ‘open murder’ information or indictment charges Murder in the First Degree and all necessarily included offenses. These would include Murder in the Second Degree and possibly Voluntary Manslaughter and Involuntary Manslaughter based upon the specific facts of the case.”

KOLO-TV reports that authorities compared crime scene DNA to Sullivan’s DNA from his stint in prison. Online records show him with past addresses in multiple states, mostly California and Arizona.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x