NV Attorney General and Washoe Sheriff discuss cold case murder arrest

Charles Gary Sullivan. Washoe County jail booking photo.
Charles Gary Sullivan. Washoe County jail booking photo.(KOLO)
Published: Nov. 19, 2019 at 12:52 PM PST
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These are the comments delivered after the arraignment of accused murderer


Aaron Ford, NV Attorney General

: We at the office of the Attorney General believe nothing more than than our job is justice. And there is no better example of my office trying to advance that mission than this case. 40 years ago, Julia Woodward's untimely death shook this community and it has never been forgotten.

To the best of my knowledge, this case represents the first time that my office has taken the lead on a cold case prosecution. And while the prosecutors in my office recognize the complexities and challenges that come from taking on a 40 year old case, I am proud that we are pursuing justice on behalf of Julia, her family, and her friends. Miss O'Connor, we are here today to pursue justice on your behalf and your daughter's behalf.

Miss Francis (?), we are here today to pursue justice on your behalf and your sister's behalf, and on behalf of her other family and friends.

As members of law enforcement, evidence may have gone cold, but our tears have never run dry and our quest for justice never ends ... ever. And that's why I'm particularly honored to commend the Washoe County Sheriff's Office for it's unrelenting efforts to follow leads in this case. Without its persistence and dedication, we would not be here today. Through these efforts, we hope to keep someone we believe to be a threat to our communities off the streets. And we desire to bring justice and some form of peace to Julia's family and friends.

Julia's case found its way into the courtroom because of a joint effort with my office, the Washoe County Sheriff's Office, the Phoenix FBI Field Office, the California Department of Justice, and the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office. And I want to personally thank each and every one of these agencies for the commitment to solving cold cases. But I especially want to thank Washoe County Sheriff Balaam for approaching our office to prosecute this case. His outreach to our office, we believe, speaks to our office's willingness to pursue justice, no matter the difficulties. Thank you for your confidence, Sheriff Balaam.

And with that, I'd like to turn the mic over to Sheriff Balaam to talk about the investigation.

Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam

: Thank you Attorney General Ford. I want you to know how much I appreciate the partnership our agency has had with your office moving this case forward. Thanks for joining us today. Our victim, Julia Woodward's mother Cecily O'Connor is here with us today. Cecily, I know we can never replace your loss, but we are honored to help you find justice. You may not know this, but you have been the strongest inspiration for many men and women who have continued this investigation over the last four decades.

It's impossible for you to ever forget Julia, and equally as impossible for you to give up seeking answers. For that reason, we knew it was important that we never forget and we never give up the search for answers. That is the motivation that got us here today. But we didn't get here alone. In addition to Attorney General Ford's office, I'd like to express our gratitude to some of the other agencies who provided invaluable assistance to our investigators. The Washoe County Sheriff's Office Forensic Science Division worked closely with the California Department of Justice's Bureau of Forensic Services to examine biological evidence in this case, evidence which helped identify Mr. Sullivan as a possible suspect. As the investigation moved forward, an indictment was obtained and we were ready to make an arrest. The FBI Field Office and the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office assisted with that arrest. Both agencies performed with extreme professionalism and we appreciate their efforts to help make this operation a success. Our cold case investigators were in constant contact with the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit throughout this investigation. We thank them as well for their insight and assistance.

At the center of this investigation was Det. Rick Belke. Det. Belke began working on this case shortly after being assigned to the Cold Case Unit. His efforts led to the collaboration with other units that has been so important to our success. He kept at it with a determined tenacity that was driven by his desire to find answers for the victim's family. And I want to thank you for that Detective.

On a final note, thanks to the determination of those who worked this case, this is the second time this year I've had the opportunity to stand before you and talk about significant developments in cold cases that are decades old. As I shared, this is a proud moment. Proud because we know we have not given up on the victim or the loss felt by the victim's loved ones and it's a standard I will continue to uphold. And again, thank you for coming.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2019

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