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October 31, 2002

Deputies seek clues in killing of deaf woman

From: Democrat and Chronicle, NY
Oct. 31, 2002

By Greg Livadas
Democrat and Chronicle

(October 31, 2002) — Genesee County Sheriff’s deputies are asking that people who knew Kisha Sullivan -- particularly those in the deaf community -- tell them about her to help solve her slaying.

"We're interested to hear from anybody who is familiar with her, her acquaintances and her lifestyle," Sheriff Gary Maha said Wednesday.

Sullivan, 27, a 1995 graduate of Rochester School for the Deaf, was found Sunday near a quarry in Le Roy.

She was fully clothed, except for her sneakers, which were found nearby.

Maha said blood was found at the scene, which indicates she had been killed there by a blow to the face.

The only deaf member of a large family, Sullivan lived in an apartment at 899 Culver Road and, other than family members, only associated with other deaf people, her family said.

"To her family, she was very precious to us," said her grandmother, Francis Rudolph of Rochester. "She was a very fun-loving lady and didn't have a mean streak in her," she said. "Who would want to hurt a person who couldn't talk and couldn't hear?"

Rudolph said her granddaughter didn't drive. "How she got to Le Roy is a puzzle to us."

She said she last saw her granddaughter in mid-September, when family members were playing in her yard on Avenue D. Rudolph said she didn't expect to see Sullivan again until Thanksgiving, so long periods without communication were not unusual.

"She wasn't missing," said Sullivan's mother, Francine Prather.

Maha said no motive for the slaying is known. Sullivan had no police record.

She was last seen alive the afternoon of Oct. 4, when she kept a medical appointment.

Family members wonder whether someone snatched Sullivan and became frustrated if they couldn't communicate with her, or if she was taken to Le Roy by someone she knew. Investigators have spoken with her family members and her boyfriend, who is now raising their 15-month-old son.

Sullivan was active in high school as a cheerleader and soccer and basketball player. After graduation, she attended college in Illinois until she was forced to return to Rochester when her money ran out, family members said.

She lived on Driving Park Avenue before moving to her Culver Road apartment.

The tragedy is not the first for the family.

Sullivan was Rudolph's first granddaughter; her first grandson, Sherrill Prather, 20, was shot and killed with another man in 1991. The suspect was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

"We shouldn't have to do this again. This is like pouring coals on the fire that's already burning," Rudolph said, looking at photographs of her grandson and of Sullivan.

"Whoever did this awful thing to my family again, I hope and pray you've got a conscience," Rudolph said.

"I hope they catch you so you don't hurt another family like you hurt my family. I'm going to pray for you."

Rudolph also asked for prayers from the community.

"Help us to get through this ordeal because it's very hard," she said.

Besides her mother, grandmother and son, Sullivan is survived by her father, Gerald Sullivan; two sisters, Tashara and Tashana Banks; three brothers, LaShawn Banks, Tyrik Banks and Terrance Prather; another grandmother, Sally Sullivan, and many other relatives, all in Rochester.

Funeral details are pending at Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church.

Anyone who knew Sullivan is asked to call the sheriff's department at (585) 345-3000 ext. 218.

Copyright 2002 Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.