A former Navy sailor has been sentenced to 16 years to life in prison for murdering his wife, hiding her body in a freezer, and later dumping it in the San Diego Bay.
According to multiple reports, Matthew Sullivan fatally stabbed his wife, Elizabeth Sullivan, in October 2014, while the couple’s two daughters were in the other room of their Liberty Station home. He reportedly placed the 32-year-old’s body in a freezer, leaving her there for two years and telling everyone Elizabeth had abandoned the family.
However, in October 2016, her body was found floating in the San Diego Bay just when the man decided to quit the military and skip town to the East Coast. Movers were at the home the day Elizabeth’s body was discovered.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 11, 2016
According to the Los Angeles Times, San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Jill Lindberg said Sullivan murdered his wife because she had an affair with another man and planned to leave their marriage. Lindbergh also said the victim had taken over $1,000 out of their joint bank account prior to her disappearance.
During Friday’s sentence hearing, Lindberg argued Sullivan had “made her look like the person who had abandoned her family, when that was not the case and he knew it.” The attorney then added how he allowed the children to “twist in the wind and wonder what had happened to [their mother]” for years.
Investigators later found the pair’s bedroom carpet and wood floor underneath soaked in blood, and they also came across a knife with traces of Elizabeth’s blood on it tucked under some attic insulation. Prosecutors were also able to show how Sullivan had purchased a carpet cleaner the day after his wife disappeared.
Despite the evidence, the 35-year-old has continued to claim his innocence. In the trial, his attorney, Marcus DeBose, argued that Elizabeth had abused drugs and would often sleep in a nearby park instead of coming home at night. He also pointed out that his client had no prior criminal record and had served in the Navy for eight years. Oh yeah, he also tried to defend Matthew by saying he had been a Boy Scout as a child in Minnesota.
In 2020, a San Diego Superior Court jury found him guilty of second-degree murder. On Friday, per the LA Times, Superior Court Judge Albert Harutunian III handed Sullivan’s official sentence.
“The jury verdict and the evidence at trial made it clear that Matthew Sullivan brutally murdered his wife, methodically cleaned up the messy murder site, and then hid the body for years. He almost got away with it, but his final attempt to hide the body at the bottom of the bay failed.”
Man who killed and froze her wife, dumped body in San Diego Bay, gets 16 years to life https://t.co/FrzkCSVwvD
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) March 13, 2021
Sullivan also made a brief statement in the hearing, speculating how his defense witnesses being unavailable to testify ended up hurting his case.
“I firmly believe their testimony would have changed the verdict in the trial.”
To which, Lindberg responded:
“There is clearly no remorse on the defendant’s part. He thinks he could have gotten a different verdict.”
Our hearts go out the Elizabeth’s family and friends during this difficult time.
If you or someone you know is in need of help from a domestic violence situation, please reach out to 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or go to thehotline.org.It’s confidential and available 24/7.
[Image via Delaware Department Of Corrections]