NewsArizona News


Bound, Gagged and Blindfolded: Suspected serial killer's search history mirrors 1970s murders

Posted at 10:33 PM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-16 11:39:06-04

Accused of killing a California woman in 1970, 73-year-old Charles Gary Sullivan was arrested in Prescott, Arizona last summer. However, the 40-year cold case, is not the only homicide that detectives believe he's linked to.

In fact, investigators noticed two other women, who also went missing in the late 70s, had a lot of things in common.

The body of 20-year-old Julia Woodward was found on March 25, 1979. The San Carlos, California woman went missing about a month earlier after telling friends and family she planned to travel to Nevada.

Her body was found in a remote area in Hungry Valley.

"Band-aids covered the victim’s eyes in a manner that would operate as a blindfold. A piece of cloth that appeared to have been used as a gag was discovered wrapped around her neck... A whitish, opaque zip tie was found some distance from the body... Another zip tie of the same color had been secured around the victim's other ankle."

Investigators also noted Woodward's underwear was missing, and semen was later found on her pants.

The importance of how investigators discovered the body only became greater after Sullivan's arrest.

Washoe County deputies along with the FBI and several Arizona agencies raided Sullivan's home along the Mogollon Rim. There, investigators found and seized a computer with evidence that prosecutors now believe point to the accused killer’s intent and motive.

Brand new motions filed by Nevada State prosecutors state investigators discovered, "Numerous searches for, and images of, pornographic bondage images, in which women are bound, gagged, and or blindfolded while engaged in sexual activity. In other words, the evidence relating to Defendant’s computer usage is exactly the type of evidence one would expect to find on the computer of a man who abducts, binds, blindfolds, gags, rapes, and kills women."

The images found on his computer were eerily similar to the condition investigators found, not only Julia Woodward's body, but the body of 17-year-old Jeannie Smith.

"The zipper to her jeans had been forcibly opened," reads a separate motion. "Jeannie's clothes- as well as other cloth, tape and rope- were discovered within 30 feet of her skeletal remains...As was the case with Julie, Jeannie was missing her underwear and ID."

Prosecutors believe the images found on Sullivan's computer paint him as a clear suspect in both murders, even though as of today, Sullivan has only been charged in Woodward's death. However, he has been linked to Smith's as well as the disappearance of Linda Taylor, a third woman who went missing around the same time period but whose body was never found.

"Defendant is charged with murdering a young woman that he bound with zip ties, gagged with a piece of cloth, and blindfolded with medical bandages... evidence relating to the bondage pornography found on Defendant’s computer is clearly relevant to his intent and motive, which is probative of the identity of Julia Woodward’s killer."

Sullivan was also convicted of unlawful imprisonment in 2007, after an unnamed woman came forward accusing Sullivan of taking her to a remote desert at gunpoint, tying her wrists and ankles with zip-ties.

Sullivan's trial is scheduled to begin in January of 2021.