Charles Gary Sullivan is the suspected killer of 21-year-old Julia Woodward
Irish American Charles Gary Sullivan has been arrested after new DNA technology linked him to the 1979 murder of 21-year-old Julia Woodward in Nevada.
The Washoe County Sherrif’s Office [WCSO] in Nevada said in a statement that Charles Gary Sullivan, 73, was arrested in Arizona on August 28 facing charges relating to the murder of Woodward.
Police said that the body of a 21-year-old female was found on March 25, 1979, in a remote area of Hungry Valley, just north of Reno, Nevada. The homicide victim was determined to be Julia Woodward, who was last seen in California on February 1, 1979.
ABC 15 added that investigators also said: “Woodward's eyes were sealed shut with bandaids, her legs were zip-tied, and a cloth had been used as a gag. Rocks nearby were also covered in hair and blood. Investigators at the time noted that Woodward was only wearing one shoe.”
Nearly four decades later, a newly-formed Cold Case Unit at the WCSO reviewed Woodward's case and, due in part to advancements in DNA technology, authorities requested additional forensic analysis of evidence that was taken from the scene.
Woodward’s case was among nearly three dozen that were reopened in 2015. Cecily O'Connor, Woodward’s mother, said at the time: "You don't know what happened so every story that you read with girls being murdered or victimized in some way you think oh, that's what happened.
"It's like if your child had cancer, you would know everything there is to know about the disease. In this case, you just want to know what happened. You want to be there with her in your mind and think about what really happened," said O'Connor.
You can watch O'Connor speaking with ABC 7 San Francisco in 2015 here:
Working in conjunction with the California Department of Justice's Bureau of Forensic Services, the WCSO examined biological evidence that identified Charles Sullivan as a possible suspect in the murder of Woodward.
On November 15, Sullivan was extradited from Arizona to Nevada on a grand jury indictment, which read in part: "The defendant, Charles Gary Sullivan, in or about 1979, within the County of Washoe, State of Nevada, did willfully, feloniously, without authority of law, and with premeditation, deliberation, and malice aforethought, and/or in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of a sexual assault, kill Julia Woodward by striking her with a rock..."
Sullivan is reportedly a suspect in two other murders around the same time of Woodward’s, but he has not been charged in those as of yet.
During his arraignment on November 19, Sullivan entered a plea of not guilty. The prosecution requested that Sullivan not be granted bail due to the “overwhelming evidence” linking him to Woodward’s murder. A trial date has been set for January 30, 2020.
Leilah Duncan, a neighbor to Sullivan and his wife, told ABC 15 that Sullivan's wife does not 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.”