A former U.S. Navy service member has been found guilty of murdering his wife, hiding her body for two years, then disposing of it in San Diego Bay where it was later found.
Matthew Sullivan, 35, stabbed his wife, 32-year-old Elizabeth Sullivan, to death in 2014 because of claims she had an affair, was planning to file for divorce, threatened to take their children with her and cleaned out a joint bank account, according to prosecution.
Her body was found two years after she disappeared in October 2014 and the police initially “found no sign of foul play” during their investigations.
During trial, it emerged that Elizabeth, before her sudden disappearance and murder, was last seen near her home in Point Loma on the night of October 13, 2014 near Liberty Station in San Diego.
That day, she sent a text message to her friends and family. Four days later, her husband reported her missing and her car was found at her home.
Police said two days later, she was spotted near the soccer fields at Liberty Station and was seen again near the San Diego International Airport and Midway area on October 21, 2014.
While authorities searched for her, her husband told reporters that even though he sometimes allowed his wife to have the needed space because they were having marital issues, she had never been gone for such a long time.
“She’s never been gone this long. She’s been with them their whole lives, while I was at work or on deployment… she was always there.”
That same period, Elizabeth’s relatives sought the help of a private detective, distributed missing person fliers and set up a Gofundme page as well as social media pages in their search efforts.
But after months of searching, there were no leads and the case went cold, according to the Daily Mail.
After two years, Sullivan left the Navy with plans to move to the East Coast with his new fiancee.
But it was that same year, on October 4, 2016, that a man who was walking his dog found Elizabeth’s partly decomposed body in the bay, less than a mile from the home she shared with her husband and their two daughters.
San Diego police, after a week, were able to identify her body. It took a year and a half until they were able to connect Sullivan to her murder.
Sullivan, who had then moved to the East Coast, was arrested on January 31, 2018, and extradited to San Diego where he remained after being charged with murder.
The District Attorney’s Office believes Elizabeth’s body was hidden somewhere, probably in a freezer, before it was later dumped in the bay.
Deputy Defense Attorney Jill Lindberg said during the trial that Sullivan stabbed his wife at least five times in her torso. Her injuries left a pool of blood on the floor of her third-floor bedroom, he said.
But Sullivan’s defense attorney Marcus Dubose said his client was a man who was “attempting to hold on to a wife that was pulling away, turning towards a self-destructive lifestyle.”
He told the court that the blood that was found in her bedroom was from a self-inflicted wound made by Elizabeth as the couple were having troubles in their marriage.
Last Friday, Sullivan was found guilty of second-degree murder and an allegation that he used a knife in the attack.
The judge set sentencing for April 13.