Shooting victim’s parents ask for help
By Sparta Live | February 25, 2009 12:00 am
Mother and father grieve for son
The lives of one White County family have been turned upside down as described by the patriarch when he talked about the death of his son.
Joe and Vauda Sullivan are the parents of 50-year-old Terry Sullivan whose body was found in his Oakland Drive home just before 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 16, 2009.
During an interview Tuesday, Vauda sat in a chair at the back of a table in the office building of the family’s lumber mill as she struggled to talk about the death of her only son. With her head slightly bowed and tears freely falling, she talked about the phone call from Sparta Police Department Investigator Travis Barker that was described as the beginning of a nightmare.
“It was 7 o’clock on Saturday morning – they called us,” said Vauda, as her voice broke with emotion. “I thought it was Terry. We were going out for breakfast. But when I looked at the phone it said ‘private number, private name.’ I thought, ‘Wonder how Terry did that?’ Sometimes when we’d go out for breakfast, he’d be late and he’d say, ‘Mom, I’ll be there in just a minute. I’m running late this morning.’
“But it was Travis [Barker], and of course, then, he told me. He said, ‘Apparently Terry has fallen in the kitchen and bumped his head, and he’s got a broken toe. And he has died.’ And I said, ‘That can’t be right.’ He said, ‘Yes, Ms. Sullivan, that’s right.’
Vauda hesitated as she recounted how she started screaming, which immediately brought her husband to her side. Joe took the phone from her hand.
“It’s a nightmare,” said Vauda, as she choked back the tears.
“He [Barker] made out like it was an accident, and we didn’t know any better until Saturday afternoon,” said Joe.
Terry’s nephew, e Jolley, said someone had told him about the article on-line at myspartanews.com that reported Terry’s death as an alleged shooting. This was the first information the family had that Terry had died from causes other than what had been told to them during the initial phone call from Barker.
“My sister called us about 9:30 Friday night,” said Vauda, as she described how her sibling could see Terry’s house from her own residence. “She said, ‘I see a couple of [patrol] cars over in front of Terry’s house.’ She didn’t know if they had stopped somebody for speeding or what, so Joe called the house.”
Vauda said the answering machine came on, so she and Joe assumed everything was OK.
“We had no idea what was going on,” said Vauda.
The Sullivans said they are struggling with a lack of communication with law enforcement officials.
“They told us they would keep us informed, but they have not done it,” said Joe. “It’s more than the loss of a son. It was the loss of my business partner, and it was someone to help me out when I was ready to retire. If anybody has seen anything or knows anything, it would be more than appreciated if they would come forward.”
Joe said Oakland Drive, which is located in Gillen Subdivision directly behind Sparta First Baptist Church, is a high-traffic area, with the shooting occurring at a time when numerous people may have been traveling that road.
“This has sure turned us upside down,” said Vauda. “He was such a wonderful son.”
“Our lives are not the same, and they’ll never be,” said Daphne Sullivan Jacob, Terry’s sister.
As Joe looked up from underneath the brim of his cap, he stated one final request.
““There’s so many people that have come around and everyone has said, ‘If there’s anything we can do to help you, we’re willing to help you.’ Now I’m calling on that – if they know anything, please help.”
Anyone with information may call Joe at 510-7913 or 738-5974.