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Bay area cop-turned-serial-killer on death row in San Quentin dies

California serial killer Anthony J. Sully, 79, died Sept 8, 2023 of natural causes.
California serial killer Anthony J. Sully, 79, died Sept 8. | Source: Courtesy California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via Bay City News

A Bay Area serial killer on death row at San Quentin Rehabilitation Center died Friday, the California Department of Corrections said Monday.

Anthony Sully, 79, was convicted and sentenced to death in 1986 for the brutal shooting and beating murders of five women and one man during a six-month period in 1983. He died of natural causes.

Sully was born in San Francisco and grew up in Millbrae, where he served on the police force from 1967 to 1974. In the late ’70s, he quit policing and became an electrical contractor.

He rented a hangar for his business in Burlingame, which became the scene of many of his crimes. He also invested in an escort service, used the service of sex workers and became addicted to freebasing cocaine, according to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Some of his victims were sex workers. The names of the people he killed were Kathryn Barrett, 24; Barbara Searcy, 22; Gloria Jean Fravel, 24; Brenda Oakden, 19; Michael Thomas, 24; and Phyllis Melendez, 20. Sully beat, tortured and raped Fravel before killing her with an ax. Barrett was stabbed six times and then hit over the head with a sledgehammer.

Many of his other victims were shot in the back of their heads as they entered his hangar. Some of his victims were placed nude in metal drums filled with concrete, which he dumped in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

As a defendant, Sully pleaded not guilty. He most recently lost an appeal to his case in 2013. Sully was pronounced dead at 2:21 a.m. at an outside medical facility.

The Marin County Coroner will determine his exact cause of death. California placed a moratorium on the death penalty in 2019.