On the morning of November 17, 2020, the remains of a woman were discovered in a section of the Salt River in Phoenix, Arizona. The Salt River is around 200 miles long and flows into the Gila River. The woman’s body displayed injuries indicative of violence and it was clear at first sight that the woman had suffered a cruel death.
The body was later identified using dental records as a missing Illinois woman, 49-year-old Amy Leagans, known to friends and loved ones as Ruby. Leagans’ family had reported her missing two weeks earlier on October 27 after she failed to contact anyone for several days.
Fed up with living in Chicago and in search of warmer climates and a new beginning, she and a friend moved over 1700 miles to Arizona in the summer of 2020. This is where she met her new romantic interest, 61-year-old Timothy Sullivan. The victim’s family were not aware of the man and told police they had never heard of him until his later arrest.
The man was questioned about his connection to the decedent after police tracked down his vehicle and discovered a bag filled with gloves, cleaning supplies and a bedspread. When asked about her, Sullivan denied being in a relationship with the victim but said he had met her once before. A warrant was obtained to search the suspects property and an array of damning evidence was collected by forensic investigators, including blood in both the house and vehicle, women’s clothes and jewellery, and singed hair. The earth in the backyard had been recently disturbed and was covered with topsoil and mulch. They also analysed cell-phone records before arresting Sullivan.
A look into the man’s criminal record revealed he had a history of domestic violence and had even assaulted Amy before she was found murdered, however, it is unclear if there was ever an official report or if the incident is on file. 12News reports that the police did respond to the accusations but said there was “no proof of a crime”. Various media outlets report that Sullivan was on probation when he and Amy were dating, for beating up and choking a former partner so badly that he broke some of her teeth.
Records also revealed that another woman had come forward to the police after suffering an assault at the hands of Timothy Sullivan. She stated that he had threatened to kill her and bury her in his backyard, alongside another woman, whose name was redacted from the report but is speculated to be Amy.
Sullivan was arrested on November 25, just over a week after Leagans’ remains were found. He confessed to investigators that he had killed her in the heat of an argument.
He told police that he killed the woman in her own apartment after he became angry during an argument. “I just snapped” he said. He admitted that he strangled her to death and fled the premises. Two days later he returned and attempted to cover up the murder by scrubbing the crime scene with bleach, rolling Leagans’ body up in a plastic tarp and burying her remains in the backyard of his home in Scottsdale near Granite Reef Road.
Worried that the location of the body was too close to home, Sullivan dug it back up and dismembered it, separating it out between several plastic bags, each filled with soil, that he told investigators he tossed into different dumpsters and locations around town. The woman’s torso was later found in the desert.
Timothy Sullivan has been charged with second degree murder. He was arrested at the home of one of his ex-girlfriends. He told police he did not premeditate Amy Leagans’ murder and that he killed her in the heat of the moment. Sullivan’s mugshot depicts a heavy-set, balding Caucasian male.
The victim’s family were shocked and horrified that their loved one had been so brutally murdered and disposed of by a man they had never heard of.
“No one will ever know except those two people…My sister and Tim Sullivan” said Amy Leagans’ older sister.