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Ex-Navy man ordered to trial in death of wife found in bay

Courtroom and gavel. (Joe Gratz/Flickr)

A former Navy man was bound over for trial Friday on one count of murder, accused of stabbing his wife to death in 2014 and hiding her body in their house for two years before dumping the decomposing remains in San Diego Bay.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Frederick Link said he had heard enough evidence in a two-day preliminary hearing to believe that Elizabeth Sullivan was the victim of a crime.

Further, the judge said, evidence of her blood in the attic of the couple’s Point Loma home, on the underside of a carpet and on a knife hidden under insulation in the attic, was enough to hold Matthew Sullivan for trial.

“The attic is the tell-tale key,” Link said. “Without that I don’t think you have a case.”

He added, “This is going to be a very interesting trial.”

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Defense attorney Marcus DeBose argued that a prosecutor had presented no evidence proving his client had killed Elizabeth Sullivan and that there was at least one other good suspect, the boyfriend she dated while married.

DeBose said Matthew Sullivan cooperated with San Diego police and homicide detectives throughout their investigation after his wife was reported missing, by a friend, on Oct. 13, 2014.

Deputy District Attorney Jill Lindberg brought in witnesses who said Elizabeth Sullivan had a troubled marriage and went to see a divorce lawyer that morning. Her friends never heard from her again after that night.

Police took a missing persons report on her, but found no evidence of foul play for two years.

Then, on Oct. 4, 2016 – the day movers were packing up Matthew Sullivan’s belongings at the Truxton Road home he had shared with his wife – Elizabeth Sullivan’s body turned up in the bay.

She had been stabbed to death and was decomposing in a way that indicated she had lain for some time on one side, a doctor testified.

A police cadaver dog later reacted to a spot in the Sullivan garage where a refrigerator-freezer had stood for several years, Lindberg said.

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Investigators also pulled up carpeting in the house, finding the woman’s blood soaked through to the sub-floor, and a bloody knife stashed in the attic. Matthew Sullivan’s DNA also was found on the knife, Lindberg said.

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© 2019 The San Diego Union-Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.