Charles Gary Sullivan

Charles Gary Sullivan (left) was extradited to Nevada on Nov. 15 for the 1979 murder of 21-year-old Julia Woodward based on new DNA evidence.

In August, residents of East Verde Estates watched as U.S. Marshals, FBI and sheriff’s office agents searched a neighbor’s property with cadaver dogs.

Now they know why.

On Nov. 15 authorities extradited 73-year-old Arizona resident Charles Gary Sullivan for the 1979 murder of Julia Woodward near Reno.

Woodward’s body was found in March of 1979 in a shallow grave 15 miles north of Reno.

She had not been seen since Feb. 1, 1979 when she flew from San Francisco to Reno to find a job.

According to news reports, zip ties were used to tie up her legs, her eyes were sealed shut with Band-Aids, a cloth was used as a gag, and rocks covered in blood and hair were found near her body. She only wore one shoe.

There was not much evidence beyond that at the scene, so the case quickly went cold.

In 2015, authorities reopened Woodward’s case with the aid of modern DNA technology. What they found led them to a grand jury indictment on Aug. 15, 2019.

The indictment reads Sullivan, “with premeditation, deliberation, and malice aforethought, and/or in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of a sexual assault, kill(ed) Julia Woodward by striking her with a rock.”

Some news reports have indicated that Sullivan might be a serial killer.

Evidence of that resulted from a murder victim found one mile from Woodward’s body in a similar grave with similar injuries.

Authorities identified the body as Jeannie Smith, a 17-year-old, who died in November 1979 from blunt force trauma. Smith’s body was found a few months after Woodward’s body. Smith had last been seen in October 1978 — a year before her body was found, according to the Washoe County Police.

Authorities have not linked the cases and Smith’s case remains unsolved.

In California, KOLO-TV reported Sullivan picked up a 25-year-old female hitchhiker near Truckee, Calif. in 2007. The woman was reportedly seeking a ride to Yuba City and somewhere along the way, Sullivan tried to attack her.

In documents from the appellate court case, Sullivan reportedly offered to take the woman to a remote location to show her a “vein of turquoise.”

After hiking up a creek bed, Sullivan reportedly pointed a gun at the victim’s head after she stopped to tie her shoe. Sullivan allegedly zip-tied the woman’s hands and legs after ordering her to lie down.

Then, according to court documents, Sullivan told the women the two would have sex for a few days, but she was not to look at him, as he didn’t want her to memorize his face.

The woman escaped by using a pocketknife to cut herself free of the zip ties when Sullivan left to get something out of his van.

According to news reports, Sullivan was 61 years old.

Sullivan received a four-year sentence for the crime. He was paroled to Blythe, Calif.

It was DNA evidence collected during Sullivan’s time in a California prison that connected the dots for Washoe County authorities.

An ABC15 report suggests Sullivan may have killed women in Arizona too.

“According to some of Sullivan’s own family members and other law enforcement sources, Sullivan could be connected to other murders in Arizona.”

Authorities reportedly used dogs to search Sullivan’s property in East Verde Estates.

“Yes, there were cadaver dogs brought in. No, there were no bodies found. Please remember we are a community that cares about one another. If you know this couple the wife is undoubtedly feeling lost and alone,” according to a property owners association November newsletter for East Verde Estates.

Sullivan was scheduled to be arraigned in Washoe District Court at 11 a.m. on Nov. 19.

Contact the reporter at

Contact the reporter at mnelson@payson.com

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