- The Washington Times - Monday, June 7, 2004

ATLANTA (AP) — Carrying a box filled with a dozen long-stemmed pink roses, a man knocked on the door of Lita McClinton Sullivan’s townhouse. He fired two shots, and the socialite dropped dead.

Now, after 17 years and a round-the-world manhunt for one of America’s most-wanted fugitives, her millionaire husband has been brought back to Atlanta from Thailand to face charges that he had his estranged wife killed.

James Vincent Sullivan, 63, sits in a jail cell, awaiting trial early next year. He could get the death penalty.

Police say Mr. Sullivan had every reason to kill his wife: greed, affairs and status. She was killed Jan. 16, 1987, hours before a hearing in her divorce. She was seeking the $450,000 townhouse, its antique French furnishings and $100,000 in jewelry.

Mr. Sullivan lived in luxury as he eluded authorities on a cross-continent run — from Palm Beach, Fla., to Costa Rica to Panama to Venezuela and then to Thailand, where he was captured in 2002 after someone recognized him on TV’s “America’s Most Wanted.”

After 19 months in an overcrowded Thailand prison, Mr. Sullivan was extradited to Atlanta in March.

The Sullivans’ troubles started in 1983 in Palm Beach, where Mr. Sullivan bought a mansion for $2 million after selling his inherited Georgia liquor company for $5 million.

Newly rich, he wanted to break into the Palm Beach elite. But some say he might have been held back by his blue-collar background, his Boston accent and his black wife, Lita. Later, the Sullivans moved to Atlanta, where the social structure was not so rigid.

He started seeing other women, and his wife eventually filed for divorce.

The day Mrs. Sullivan was killed, Mr. Sullivan had dinner in Palm Beach with Hyo-Sook Choi Rogers, whom he married eight months later.

Mr. Sullivan was brought to trial in 1992 in federal court, where prosecutors argued that he violated interstate commerce laws by arranging his wife’s killing over the phone. A judge dismissed that case.

A Texas woman came forward in 1998 to say she recognized Mr. Sullivan as the man who paid $25,000 to her ex-boyfriend, truck driver Phillip Anthony Harwood.

Harwood pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and received a 20-year prison sentence in exchange for his testimony against Mr. Sullivan, who became a fugitive shortly after being indicted.

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