NBC’s ‘Dateline: Secrets by the Bay’ is an episode that profiles the 2014 disappearance and murder of Elizabeth Sullivan, a 32-year-old mother of two, who vanished from her home in October, never to be seen or heard from again. In a strange turn of events, though, her body was found in the San Diego Bay, roughly half a mile from her Liberty Station home, almost two years to the day she went missing. And as investigations began, her husband, former U.S. Navy sailor Matthew Sullivan, was found to be the perpetrator. So now, let’s find out more about him, shall we?
Who is Matthew Sullivan?
Matthew Scott Sullivan and Elizabeth Ricks Sullivan met in Virginia, where Elizabeth reportedly grew up, during the time the former was posted there as a petty officer in the Navy. Their romance was a complete whirlwind as per friends and family, and they ended up tying the knot in 2010. Then, as Matthew was transferred to San Diego, the couple relocated and had two daughters. Unfortunately, by 2012, their marriage was in real trouble. Not only were they sleeping on separate floors in their three-story townhome, but Elizabeth was also dating other men, which Matthew did not like.
According to records, the tension between the Sullivans was so high that there were a few 911 calls about domestic violence, with Elizabeth saying that fight over the custody of their children and child support could potentially escalate. Yet, no charges against him were ever filed. With that said, on October 13, 2014, Elizabeth did meet a divorce lawyer before disappearing the next day. Following this, the sailor claimed that his wife had abandoned their family, and with no signs of foul play to be found, the authorities could do nothing. But Matthew, it seemed like, continued to look for Elizabeth, needing to know that she was okay.
Then, on October 4, 2016, as Matthew was packing up their former home to move to the East Coast with their two daughters, his new fiancée, and their own baby, Elizabeth’s body was found in the bay. Homicide officers subsequently scoured their residence, determining that Elizabeth’s blood was soaked into a carpet and on a knife hidden in the attic. Ultimately, on January 31, 2018, Matthew was charged and arrested for his former wife’s murder at his new place in Delaware. Held on a $2 million bond, the law enforcement officials said he’d hid her body for two years in a freezer.
Where is Matthew Sullivan Now?
When Matthew Scott Sullivan went on trial for the charges against him in February 2020, the prosecutors asserted that the Navy veteran beat and stabbed Elizabeth to death in a bedroom of their home because she’d not only had an affair but was also planning to leave him for good. In the end, in March, after a day and a half of deliberations, the jury found him guilty of second-degree murder. Then, nearly a year later, he was sentenced to 16 years to life in prison.
“Matthew Sullivan brutally murdered his wife, methodically cleaned up the messy murder site, and then hid the body for years,” the judge said during his March 2021 sentence hearing. “He almost got away with it, but his final attempt to hide the body at the bottom of the bay failed.” Despite this, the former sailor showed no remorse. In fact, he merely informed the court that some defense witnesses were unavailable to testify, which hurt his case beyond a doubt. Therefore, today, at the age of 36, Matthew is apparently incarcerated at the medium-security North Kern State Prison in Delano, Kern County, California, where he is expected to remain until, at least, October 2028.
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