A Jacksonville maître d’ used the public bus to work daily. Thirty-four years after her body was found in the woods, the police still do not know the name of her killer.
On March 3, 1987, 37-year-old mother of five, Vera Sullivan, never made it to work for her shift.She took the bus daily to the Seminole Club in Downtown Jacksonville but was last seen at the 36th Street and Moncrief Road bus stop.
After her disappearance, several search parties had been set up around her travel path. Three weeks later, Sullivan’s body was found in the woods by her son behind Clanzel T. Brown Park. An area that is popularly known to residents as the shortcut. She was wrapped in a carpet and had been in an advanced stage of decomposition.
“We believe it was blunt force trauma there was some other indications that there might have been some more trauma but of course she was in advanced stages of decomposition,” said Jacksonville County Detective Sgt. Dan Janson, according to Action News Jax.
Sullivan was well known by other bus patrons who saw her daily, and her boss described her as a very dependable worker.Investigators got a sketch of a suspect and released it to the public. Unfortunately, despite the tips garnered, none of the leads panned out.
In 2008, a childhood friend of Sullivan’s son who served time in prison for armed robbery told the family he knew who killed their mother. In addition, he also told the family he wanted to clear his conscience because the incident bothered him over the years.
According to Project Cold Case, the inmate submitted three names of potential suspects, and they were brought in for questioning. However, investigators could not place them at the crime scene or acquire any incriminating evidence to bring charges against anyone of them. Also, investigators refused to grant the inmate full immunity in exchange for his testimony, halting the investigation.
Sullivan’s family believes the inmate was either involved or had been the killer based on his knowledge of the crime scene details the police never disclosed to the public.
To date, authorities still have not made an arrest. But, hopefully, with DNA genealogy, investigators might be able to deliver justice for the family soon.
If anyone has information about this case, please contact the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at (904) 630-0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. Also, anyone who wishes to remain anonymous is eligible for a cash reward up to $3,000 and can contact Crime Stoppers at (866) 845-TIPS (8477).