Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Lita McClinton Sullivan Murder Case

Sullivan's Travels

Before police could arrest Sullivan, he was gone. Investigators soon discovered he had boarded a plane to Costa Rica. He wouldn't remain there long. Sullivan skipped from country to country in a cat-and-mouse game that exasperated the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.

Over the years, Sullivan was sighted in Switzerland, Ireland, the Cayman Islands, Guatemala, Venezuela and Panama. Finally, in July 2002, he was located and arrested at a resort community just outside of Bangkok, where he lived with his new Thai wife. The long search had culminated with Sullivan's imprisonment in a Thai jail. In 2004, after 19 months imprisonment in Thailand, he was extradited back to Atlanta and indicted on new charges including, murder and aggravated assault.

According to a Jet article, Sullivan's arrest and extradition "ended a long wait by Lita Sullivan's parents." Lita's mother, Georgia State Representative Jo Ann McClinton, was quoted in the report as saying, "I am just pleased and happy...I did feel that as long as we pursued him there was always hope...We never gave up hope finding him." Lita's parents were also pleased that the Florida Supreme Court had reversed the prior ruling in the wrongful death suit while Sullivan was on the run. The couple was finally awarded $4 million in damages that Sullivan now had to pay.

Things didn't look good for Sullivan. During Sullivan's travels, Harwood had also pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He had narrowly avoided the death penalty by agreeing to a plea deal of a lesser sentence in exchange for testifying for the prosecution against Sullivan. It was evidence that was potentially destructive to the defense's case. Sullivan now faced a possible death sentence if found guilty of capital murder.