Lita McClinton was a beautiful young woman who caught the eye of a successful businessman. She soon would marry Jim Sullivan and lived an affluent lifestyle, but the marriage was less than perfect and fell apart nine years later.
On the same day a judge was supposed to rule whether Lita could try to make a claim against her husband's multimillion-dollar fortune, she was gunned down in her own home by someone delivering a box of roses.
As correspondent Susan Spencer reports, this tale of love, betrayal, wealth and, eventually, murder would lead to an international search for justice.
Understanding the remarkable saga of Lita Sullivan requires turning back the clock to 1975, to the days of disco, the first year of "Saturday Night Live" and of a new invention, the VCR.
In those days, Lita was still Lita McClinton, living the good life of an attractive single 23-year-old, the daughter of a prominent family in Atlanta.
"She was a very sweet person. She loved entertaining her family and friends," says Poppy Marable, who was perhaps Lita's closest friend.
It was a close-knit family. Lita was the oldest child of JoAnn and Emory McClinton.
Lita was working in an upscale women's boutique when one day Jim Sullivan walked in; Lita was enthralled. "Jim was quite charming initially," Poppy remembers. "Lita thought he was a nice person, and a gentleman."
Sullivan was a dashing businessman from Macon, Ga., who had inherited a business worth millions. He lavished attention on Lita.
"On first glance, he's a gentleman. He knows how to play the part. And he played the part very well. He wined her and he dined her," JoAnn McClinton recalls.
Lita fell in love with Jim, but her parents worried about how a biracial couple might fare in Macon. They also had concerns about a different side of Jim they were beginning to see.
"He's a pathological liar," Emory says.
A man prone, the McClintons say, to omit inconvenient information.
On the night before their wedding, JoAnn McClinton says Jim told Lita he had been married before and was the father of four children.
But the next day, Dec. 29, 1976, Lita McClinton became Lita Sullivan during a small family wedding.
The newlyweds settled in Macon; Sullivan seemed delighted but Marable began to worry. "I think Jim thought he had a Barbie doll with no brains," she explains. "I was a bit concerned. I didn't like the way Jim spoke to Lita — sometimes it was in a belittling way."
Plus, says Marable, Sullivan was a cheapskate; he once scolded Lita for spending too much of his money on, of all things, Girl Scout cookies. "He was quite annoyed with her that day that she bought too many cookies," Marable remembers.
And then there were the affairs. Marable says she was aware that Sullivan was cheating on Lita.
Lita hoped he would change when the couple moved to ritzy Palm Beach, Fla., to an oceanfront mansion, named "Casa Eleda."
"But Jim continued his old ways," Marable says. "Throughout their marriage he was unfaithful."
Finally, in 1985, after nine years of trying to make the marriage work, Lita gave up, filed for divorce, packed up the Mercedes and moved into an Atlanta townhouse the couple had purchased.
"She had planned this divorce. She didn't just wake up one day and say, 'I'm divorcing Jim Sullivan.' She made sure she had copies of his important papers," Marable says.
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