State on cold case defendant: "All evidence points to...a serial killer."

Charles Gary Sullivan. Washoe County jail booking photo.
Charles Gary Sullivan. Washoe County jail booking photo.(KOLO)
Published: Nov. 18, 2019 at 6:34 PM PST
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Charles Gary Sullivan appears in Washoe District Court Tuesday facing murder charges in a 40-year-old case.

The state is citing evidence potentially linking him to others.

Charles Gary Sullivan is charged with the 1979 murder of Julia Woodward.

Last seen at the San Francisco airport for a flight to Reno, her body was found two months later in a remote canyon in Hungry Valley north of Reno.

Sullivan was arrested weeks ago at his home in Arizona. He was brought to Reno last Friday and booked into Washoe County Jail on a grand jury indictment.

When he is arraigned in Washoe District Court on Tuesday, the judge will be considering a motion filed by the state seeking to continue his "no bail" status.

Much of the state's argument rests on his known role in a 2007 attack on a young woman in Nevada County, California. In fact, that case played a key role in his eventual arrest for the murder here.

As we've reported earlier, Sullivan was charged with the kidnapping and attempted rape of a hitchhiker he picked up in the high Sierra at the intersection of I-80 and Highway 20.

Nevada County authorities say he took the young woman to a remote spot near Bowman Lake, produced a gun, handcuffed her, bound her ankles with tie wraps and told her he'd let her go after a few days of sex.

When he returned to his van, she got loose and found her way to some campers and freedom.

The jury couldn't agree on the more serious charges, but convicted him of false imprisonment. He received a sentence of less than four years and was eventually paroled to Southern California.

Grand jury testimony here in Washoe County reveals that DNA taken from him during that investigation was used nearly a decade later to link him to Julia Woodward's murder.

But the "no bail" motion also cites two other unsolved cases. One has long been linked to Woodward's murder by obvious circumstance.

Seventeen year old Jeannie Smith was last seen in downtown Reno in 1978. Her remains were found in November of the following year not far from where Woodward's body was found in the same remote area of Hungry Valley.

According to the state's motion, Sullivan was a person of interest in the investigation of Smith's death, but fled the state soon after--not because of that case, but as Reno Police began to question him about the disappearance of another woman--Linda Taylor--who disappeared in the same time period.

Sullivan initially said he didn't know Taylor, but later he admitted he had been on a date with her.

Her body was never found.

The conclusion of the state's argument: "All evidence points to the Defendant being a serial killer" responsible for Julia Woodward's murder and others.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2019

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