Widow publishes book detailing husband's murder

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by Sybil Hoffman

azfamily.com

Posted on February 19, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 19 at 1:43 PM

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- On the outside they looked like the perfect couple, but a shocking turn of events put them in the middle of a mysterious murder-suicide.

Cindy Zimmermann will never forget the summer of 2008.

"When this type of an event happens to your family, it shatters how you see the world," she said.

Married for 23 years, parents to three children and known to associate with prominent politicians, it seemed Cindy and Paul Zimmermann had it all. But in July 2008, in a North Scottsdale neighborhood, a murder mystery was unraveling.

"One handwritten note was things I need to buy to kill Paul Zimmermann," Cindy Zimmermann said.

Inside their home, police found evidence indicating something violent happened to Cindy's husband, Paul.

"We found sufficient blood evidence to support that the murder had occurred just inside the kitchen area," Scottsdale Detective Pete Salazar explained.

Reported missing days earlier, police were interviewing everyone who knew Paul, which included Cindy. She remembers thinking, "It's unimaginable to me that someone would think that I could be involved in something like that."

As Salazar points out, "The statistics are in the favor of most murders being committed by a known associate or family member."

Turns out Cindy and Paul's seemingly perfect world was crumbling as the couple was in the middle of a bitter breakup.

"Our divorce was final the same day that he was murdered," Cindy said.

"How she handled herself determined whether she became a suspect or remained a lead," Salazar explained.

As investigators collected more clues, the pieces of the puzzle started coming together. The police report reveals Paul had been shot, his body then wrapped in a tarp and covered with clipped oleanders, which sat next to a hedge for days.

Salazar said that's not all they found on the tarp.

"It was covered with kitty litter, Pine-Sol was poured on the kitty litter, and then leaves, debris, yard clippings, et cetera. were put on the body," he said.

However, when neighbors reported smelling something rancid, they witnessed the homeowner, Tom Sullivan, do something rather bizarre.

"Mr. Sullivan gets a rope, wraps the rope around the tarp, ties it to the bumper of his truck, drives down the street, out onto a major thoroughfare and proceeds to go about a half mile where he disposes of him in a vacant lot," Salazar said.

Minutes after police attempted to interview Sullivan, detectives heard a single gunshot and Sullivan was found deceased on his back patio. Salazar said tests later confirmed, "The firearm used to commit the murder was also the weapon Mr. Sullivan killed himself with."

As for Cindy's involvement in the murder, Salazar said, "We ruled her out."

Nearly five years later, Cindy is talking about the crime in her book, "A Woman of Interest," a collection of handwritten letters about her journey through the tragedy. When we sat down with her, she told us she aspires to be more than an author.

"I have some ideas for a movie and I have an idea for a sitcom that I think will help people to write more handwritten notes," she said.

As for the motive, Scottsdale police believe Sullivan killed Zimmermann out of anger and revenge. Zimmermann reportedly refused to invest in Sullivan's real estate business.

Cindy Zimmermann plans to release her book on March 5. The official book signing is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Barnes and Noble store at 10500 N. 90th St. in Scottsdale.

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