Speaking to PEOPLE in 2014, Matthew Sullivan fought back tears as he discussed his wife's disappearance: "It's killing me"

By Chris Harris
February 01, 2018 11:39 AM
Elizabeth Sullivan

Police have filed murder charges against the ex-husband of a woman who vanished in 2014 and whose body was discovered two years later floating in San Diego Bay.

PEOPLE obtained a statement from San Diego Police that confirms Matthew Sullivan, a Navy veteran, was apprehended Wednesday morning outside his home in Wyoming, Delaware.

The 32-year-old has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Elizabeth Sullivan, who disappeared without a trace from her Point Loma home.

Elizabeth, a mother of two, was 32 at the time of her disappearance. She was reported missing on Oct. 14, 2014 — three days after her family members received a suspicious text from her phone.

Her badly decomposed body surfaced on Oct. 6, 2016, and was positively identified two months later. Elizabeth’s death was classified as a homicide.

“San Diego Homicide Detectives continued their investigation and identified the suspect in Elizabeth’s murder to be her former husband, Matthew Sullivan,” reads the police statement. “Matthew and Elizabeth were married at the time of her murder.”

Authorities have yet to reveal how they believe Elizabeth was killed, but several reports allege a knife was used.

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“Detectives obtained a homicide warrant for Matthew’s arrest last week,” the statement continues. “He was booked into a local jail and will be transported back to San Diego after extradition proceedings.”

The statement does not disclose how Sullivan emerged as a suspect and what alleged evidence led to his arrest.

Sullivan has entered no plea to the charges against him; he will be arraigned upon being returned to California.

PEOPLE was unable to ascertain if he has retained legal counsel who could comment on his behalf.

‘It’s Killing Me,’ Suspect Previously Said of Elizabeth’s Disappearance

In a rare interview with PEOPLE after his wife vanished, Sullivan expressed his frustrations and his fears.

“I’m at the end of my rope,” he told PEOPLE in late 2014. “I’m running on fumes right now, I don’t know where to look. I’m always looking around the neighborhood, trying to catch a glimpse of her. Even if I got a phone call saying she’s okay, it would put my mind at rest. But nothing at this point.”

He said the couple had been having some marital difficulties when Elizabeth went missing, but he said she never would leave her children.

“She’s a good mom,” Sullivan said then. “The girls need their mom. She’s been with them while I was at work or on deployment, she was always here.”

At the time of her disappearance, Sullivan said his wife’s family had asked him not to talk to the media.

“I don’t want to upset them any more than they are,” he told PEOPLE. “My wife was very close to her cousins and I know they are just trying to do what’s right by her.”

At points, Sullivan fought back tears as he spoke about his missing wife.

“It’s killing me. I’ve lost 25 lbs. It’s taking a toll physically and mentally,” he said at the time. “I think about her constantly, I can’t stop. The girls are my biggest concern right now. I have to keep going, try to do what I have to do for them, and keep praying.”

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Elizabeth was born and raised in Hampton, Virginia, and graduated from Kecoughtan High School in 2001. She met Sullivan when he was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, and the couple was married about five years at the time of her disappearance.

Sullivan eventually moved from San Diego to Maryland with his fiancée, Kayla Turner, their new baby and Elizabeth’s two daughters.

Anyone with information regarding Elizabeth’s murder is asked to call the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office’s Homicide Unit at (619) 531-2293, or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.