Elizabeth Sullivan’s Husband Found Guilty of Murdering Her and Dumping Her Body in Bay Off Point Loma

by on March 19, 2020 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach

Elizabeth Sullivan, a Point Loma Navy wife and mother of two girls, went missing in October of 20, 2014. Sullivan and her husband Matthew had been having marital problems. And he is the one who contacted police and filed a missing persons report.

Yet there was always something hinky about Matthew Sulllivan’s stories about her and her disappearance. The OB Rag took up the coverage of her missing, recovery and what transpired later to ensure her case wasn’t forgotten.

Over two years later, the search for her came to a tragic end when her body was found in San Diego Bay waters off the 2600 block of Farragut Road in October 2016 and she was finally identified on December 7 of that year.

At that point, police re-opened their investigation and began focusing on Matthew. And finally, on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, police arrested Matthew Sullivan, 32, outside his home in Wyoming, Delaware. He was charged with her murder and jailed, and then returned to San Diego after an extradition hearing. The couple had two daughters and the husband had custody at the time of his arrest.

Then we found out in a news report Feb. 1, 2018 from the San Diego Union-Tribune that Elizabeth had met with a divorce attorney the same day she went missing,

Well, it took a jury panel of seven men and five women about a day and a half to reach a verdict, convicting the former Navy petty officer of second-degree murder and an allegation that he used a knife in the attack.

The jury found that Matthew Sullivan stabbed his wife to death in 2014, hid her body for two years, then disposed of it in San Diego Bay where it was quickly found, a jury decided on last Friday, March 13. The conviction for second-degree carries a potential sentence of 15 years to life in prison. Sullivan will be sentenced on April 13.

Credit must go to the San Diego police for their diligence and perseverance in this case. San Diego police Lt. Mike Holden stated to the press initially the case was assigned to missing-persons detectives, who worked it for several weeks, but then was transferred to homicide detectives in December 2014. Holden said:

“The same team has worked it for three years. I think early in our investigation we assigned it to a homicide team because we felt there were some suspicious circumstances back then.  In those cases, we always hope our suspicions are wrong and we can locate the person alive. Obviously, she wasn’t located alive.”

San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Pauline Repard wrote the details of the case recently, which was picked up by Military.com:

According to the prosecution, Sullivan killed his 32-year-old wife, Elizabeth, because she had an affair, was planning to file for divorce, threatened to take their children with her and cleaned out a joint bank account.

About 30 witnesses testified over about a 10-day period before the jury began deliberating late Wednesday afternoon. They let Judge Albert Harutunian III know around 10:30 a.m. Friday that they’d reached verdicts.

The judge set sentencing for April 13.

Deputy District Attorney Jill Lindberg had told the jury, in closing arguments, that by 2012, the Sullivans’ two-year marriage was falling apart. They had moved to San Diego from Virginia and were in Navy housing at Liberty Station in Point Loma. Sullivan went on overseas deployments. His wife signed up on a dating website.

Her brief affair in 2014 ended when her boyfriend found out she was married and had two children. Sullivan’s attorney, Marcus DuBose, told jurors that Elizabeth Sullivan was using methamphetamine and cocaine and staying out overnight at times.

The lawyer said his client needed help caring for their children, so he paid airline fare for his mother, her girlfriend and his sister to come to San Diego and move in. His wife, who didn’t get along with his family, sought a lawyer’s advice on getting a restraining order against them.

She saw the lawyer on Oct. 13, 2014, according to Lindbergh. That day Elizabeth Sullivan talked to her father and a good friend on the East Coast, ending by saying she planned to lock herself in her bedroom that night. It was the last time family and friends heard from her.

Lindbergh said Elizabeth Sullivan never returned to the attorney’s office and never withdrew the money she’d siphoned into her own bank account.

A friend reported her missing, but San Diego police missing person’s investigators found no sign of foul play when they searched the home and talked to the husband.

Two years passed and Sullivan left the Navy with plans to move to the East Coast with his new fiancee. On Oct. 4, 2016, the day movers came to the Liberty Station home, a man who was walking his dog found Elizabeth Sullivan’s partly decomposed body in the bay.

It was less than a mile from the Sullivan home. By the time her remains were identified and an autopsy revealed she had been stabbed to death, Sullivan had moved.

Homicide investigators found a pool of her blood soaked into the bottom side of a carpet, the padding and wooden floor in her bedroom. Traces of her blood were on a knife tucked under the attic insulation. They realized that a small freezer seen in the garage in 2014 was no longer there. They also learned that the day after his wife disappeared, Sullivan bought carpet cleaner.

The defense attorney said Elizabeth Sullivan bled on her carpet after cutting herself with a shard from a broken mirror. Friends acknowledged she was known to cut herself during stress. DuBose also told jurors his client couldn’t have hidden a decomposing corpse in the house for two years, unnoticed. He said prosecutors were speculating to suggest the body was kept in the freezer.

Elizabeth Sullivan and her family have finally – after nearly six years! – found some justice.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Avatar Michelle March 21, 2020 at 3:21 pm

Also thank you to The Rag for providing consistent coverage of this case.

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