WASHOE COUNTY - On November 15, 2019, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office and the Nevada Attorney jointly announced that the suspect in a 40-year-old homicide investigation has been arrested.
Detectives with the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit arrested suspect Charles Gary Sullivan in Yavapai County, Arizona on Wednesday, August 28, 2019 on charges related to the 1979 murder of Julia Woodward. Agents from the FBI Phoenix Field Office and deputies from the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office assisted with the arrest.
The body of a 21-year-old female was found on March 25, 1979 in a remote area of Hungry Valley, approximately 15 miles north of Reno. Investigators determined the woman was the victim of a homicide. The body was later identified as Julia Woodward. She was last seen in California on February 1, 1979.
Evidence in the case was reviewed by a detective of the Sheriff’s Office newly formed cold case unit. Due to advances in DNA technology, the detective asked for additional forensic analysis of evidence taken from the scene. 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 that identified Charles Sullivan as a possible suspect in the case.
The investigation continued with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI, and the Office of the Nevada Attorney General.
In August 2019, the Office of the Nevada Attorney General obtained a Grand Jury indictment against Sullivan, leading to his arrest. Sullivan was extradited to Washoe County on Friday, November 15th.
“Science not only withstands the test of time, it moves forward with new developments that allow law enforcement to catch up to those who have evaded arrest for decades,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “It’s the men and women in forensic labs like the criminalists in California’s Department of Justice, that deserve our thanks and praise for connecting the dots and moving investigations forward.”