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Morganton ISIS Suspect Indicted on Murder Charge

Justin Sullivan leaves court in a file photo from February 2016.
Davie Hinshaw
Charlotte Observer
Federal authorities say Justin Sullivan murdered a neighbor in 2014 and planned to use the money he stole to buy an assault rifle and ammunition to use in a terrorist attack. A Burke County grand jurdy indicted Sullivan on a murder charge.

Federal and state indictmentsannounced Monday shed more light on a case involving a 19-year-old Morganton man arrested last on summer on terrorism-related charges. The mass attack that Justin Sullivan planned never occurred, but state and federal authorities say Sullivan had already killed and robbed an elderly neighbor several months earlier to help finance his plans.

Justin Sullivan made no secret of his support for ISIS, according to the federal indictment. In 2014, he watched ISIS videos that showed beheadings. ISIS inspired him to convert to Islam in September of that year.


That December, according to the Justice Department, Sullivan stole his dad’s .22 caliber rifle and used it to kill 74-year-old John Clark, who lived a few houses down the street. The indictment says that Sullivan planned to spend about $600 on an AR-15 assault rifle and ammunition.

The money he had when the FBI arrested him – nearly $700 – came from robbing his murder victim, according to the federal indictment. The federal charges accuse Sullivan with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State. He is also accused of firearms charges and offering to pay an informant to kill his parents.

The district attorney for Burke County is prosecuting the murder case.


U.S. vs Justin Nojan Sullivan indictment

Greg has been with WFAE since 2008 as news director, and was named executive editor in 2023. He came to WFAE from West Virginia Public Broadcasting. In his eight years there, Greg had roles as a reporter, editor and producer. He was the executive producer of a television newsmagazine and news director for radio and television when he decided to head south for Charlotte.