Local mom murdered and dumped in the woods, 30-years-later her killer remains a mystery

By: Lorena Inclan , Action News Jax

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Jacksonville, FL. - PODCAST: Project Cold Case: Vera Sullivan

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The murder of a Jacksonville mom forever changed the course of Tamica Jackson’s life.

She was a child when her mother, Vera Sullivan, was killed.

By the time she was 11, she was an orphan, after her father passed away.

More than three decades later, her mom’s murder remains unsolved.

A recent tip and the re-testing of DNA evidence could mean a potential break in the case.

But that doesn’t mean police don’t need your help also.

“Basically right up here in this clearing like right up in here,” said Jackson.

Jackson took Action News Jax to a wooded area near Clanzel T. Brown Park near Moncrief Road.

It’s where her mom’s body was found rolled up in a carpet on March 22, 1987.

Jackson was 7-years-old at the time.

“Do you feel like coming back helps you cope with what happened?” asked Lorena Inclán.

“Yeah even this very moment this very day is therapy,” said Jackson.

At times during our interview, she would get quiet as she remembered how much her mom didn’t get see, including her wedding day.

“Let me celebrate my mom's birthday with her. I don't get that, we don't get that, my siblings don't get that,” said Jackson.

Sullivan was a 37-year-old mother of five.

She took the bus every day from her apartment just behind Clanzel Park to the historic Seminole Club in downtown where she was the maître d’.

On March 3, 1987, she never made it to her shift.

Search parties were set up and three weeks later Jackson’s older brother found his mom’s body in the area known as a popular shortcut.

“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 Sgt. Dan Janson.

JSO showed Action News Jax aerial photos from 1987 showing the area where her body was discovered.

“We had looked at several suspects over the course of time none of them really panned out to be anything that we can put charges on,” said Janson.

Shortly after her body was found police released a sketch of man they’d like to question.

Last month, the case was featured on ProjectColdCase.org including its Facebook page, the exposure generated a tip related to the sketch.

“Someone revisited the case, looked at that sketch and thought maybe there might be a connection,” said Janson. 

Police are vetting that tip right now.

Janson also said they’re re-processing some evidence but they still need the public’s help.

Jackson knows someone out there, it’s time to come forward.

“Did she suffer? Was it quick? Those are the things that keep me up at night? Was it quick or did you torture her? I need answers. I want to know,” said Jackson.

Jackson said she’ll never lose hope that her mom’s case can someday get solved.

“Come clean you'll feel much better about it, you could sleep better at night with a clear conscious nobody deserves that,” said Jackson.

A few years ago an inmate known to Jackson and her family came forward offering information. But she said conversations with him went nowhere. According to Janson, the inmate named someone but police weren’t able to prove that person had anything to do with the murder.

If you have any information that could help police find Vera Sullivan’s killer call Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.

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