Maybe David Swift DIDN’T kill Karen Johnson Swift

Karen Johnson Swift and David Swift

Karen Johnson Swift went missing on October 30, 2011 in Tennessee; the details of the case are here. (Some more basic details here.) Her body was found on December 10, 2011 essentially adjacent to an abandoned cemetery (depressing) and hid by kudza leaves (also depressing). There’s more on the discovery of her body and how close it was to her house in the video below in this post.

Essentially since this case first broke, all fingers have been pointed at David Swift, the husband. Karen Johnson Swift had filed for divorce on October 10, 2011, but was still living with her husband and her two daughters 20 days later. David Swift was served with a search warrant in the summer of 2013, and purportedly the family has moved about an hour away due to media attention in the Dyersburg area (where they had been living). David Swift has admitted to essentially being the last person to see his wife/ex-wife alive, but he believes she was having an affair and had essentially “shacked up” with her boyfriend.

In cases like this, it’s very tempting to go with husband all the way as the lead suspect — especially when law enforcement wants to search his stuff two years after the murder. But maybe it isn’t David Swift in this case. 

Logically, I get it — it probably is.

But consider these factors:

  • The Country Club Party: Bill Warner, apparently a PI out of Florida, has written a bunch about this case. He notes — and this is pretty much officially noted as well — that her last major whereabouts were a country club Halloween party, where she dressed like Catwoman. Apparently one of her daughters was at a sleepover and wanted to go home early, so she left the party (she wasn’t with David Swift at the party), picked up her daughter, drove home, slept in the same bed with her daughter, and left at some point in the early AM. It’s not probable, but it’s theoretically possible that someone at the party was fond of her, she had to leave abruptly because of her daughter, and that ‘person-who-was-fond-of-her’ was texting her throughout the night. Once she thought her daughter was sound asleep, she snuck off to meet him. That’s a chance.
  • The Boyfriend: There are rumors of infidelity on both sides of the David Swift-Karen Swift marriage; if David Swift’s contention around “shacking up” is right, then there’s a possibility of a boyfriend being involved too.
  • Cooperation: Early on, there were some reports that David Swift had been cooperating; those reports are less so now, although as of October 2014, it’s a bit of a semantic issue. David Swift himself claims the police don’t want to talk to him because he has an attorney; at the same time, him and his attorney have apparently done their own investigation (!!!) and uncovered “non-circumstantial” facts that could have led to her disappearance.
  • Random: People who follow true crime and cases such as this are often quick to link “A-Case” to a series of other unsolved cases in the same geographic area, or immediately to the husband, or whatever it may be — and often that’s right (Occam’s Razor), but sometimes, disappearances and murders are just random. I’m not saying I would bet that in a casino in this specific case, but it might be random. She could have gone out to get something for her sleeping daughter and it was a crime of opportunity, etc.
  • Multiple Suspects: Take this with a grain of salt, but David Swift’s attorney has noted there could/should be “multiple suspects” in this case.
  • Logic: David Swift isn’t some criminal mastermind. He potentially killed his wife, yes. But in the repeated interactions that police have had with him and his property, they still haven’t been able to bring forth an arrest — meaning that, as the law enforcement of the area has said for three years, they aren’t confident they could get a conviction on what they currently have. Most husbands get caught in these cases because they made some grievous mistake — because they’re not killers, they’re just husbands at the end of their rope who do something hideous. David Swift isn’t at the level where he’s being arrested and it’s been over three years and tons of police look-ins; maybe there isn’t anything because maybe he’s not the guy?

This is Jeff Box, who various message boards will have you believe totally f’ed up this whole investigation:

And here’s a criminal profiler on this case:

That profiler link was taped before the body was found, so take some of it with a grain of salt — she does jump right to David Swift as the lead suspect, though. The proximity of the car to the home — the car was found well before the body, probably within about a week of the disappearance — is something that probably points back to David Swift.

I’m of two minds on this case, because I think David Swift is likely the guy, but I also feel something could have started to develop at that Halloween country club party.

If you know anything or are close to this case, feel free to leave some thoughts in the comments. 

Ted Bauer


  1. Supposed murder of Karen Swift apparently occurred in the Dyersburg family home so claims the Sheriff but he can not prove it. Dyer County District Attorney Phil Bivens speaks with Dyer County Sheriff’s investigators and TBI agents during the a Nov. 10, 2011, search of the Swift’s house on Willie Johnson Road. On that day, agents with the TBI’s Violent Crimes Response Team in Memphis processed potential evidence at the residence. Forensic agents were reportedly at the house because it was the last place Swift was seen alive and a part of the process of the investigation. Bivens says there has not been enough evidence presented to him to warrant an arrest. Cops searched the home of David and Karen Swift multiple times since she went missing on October 30th, 2011, cops found no indication anything suspicious had occurred in the home, no blood splatters etc, so were was the crime scene, were was Karen Swift murdered? It was not where her car was found, no blood splatters again, no drag marks on the dirt road near the car, nothing. It does not appear from sheriff reports that the crime scene was near the access road to Bledsoe Cemetery where the body of Karen Swift was found on December 10th, 2011, so how did she get there? David Swift could not have carried the body of Karen anywhere, he was on crutches due to recent knee surgery, I have the medical evidence.

    MONEY TRAIL: Karen Swift was not on the Mortgage or Title to the house she shared with her husband, she was driving a 2004 Nissan white Murano SE 2WD that she did not own, it was owned and registered to her husband. Karen Swift had very few household bills to pay and yet she was heavily in debt on at least 3 bank credit cards issued in HER NAME ONLY, in fact all 3 bank credit cards were maxed out and had been charged off and Karen Swift was being sued by all 3 of the credit card banks, FOLLOW THE MONEY, FOLLOW THE CREDIT CARD TRANSACTIONS, WHO WAS SHE MEETING, WHERE DID THE MONEY GO? THE FILING OF THE DIVORCE IS NOT SO MUCH A RED FLAG AS IT THE SECOND TIME SHE HAD DONE SUCH A THING. I have the evidence in copies of the various Karen Swift lawsuits filed in Dyer County.

    Karen Swift had as many as 3 cell phones at a time, two were on her husbands account, not hers, one was pre-paid and untraceable given to her to keep in touch with her ‘new friends’, some that she met on the internet. Karen Swift was working as an Aerobic Instructor at the Y in Dyersburg, Karen Swift had begun teaching an aerobics class called Silver Sneakers, which is a fitness program for older adults. Karen Swift also had a house cleaning and yard cleaning business, in fact on the morning she went missing she was headed to a house cleaning job to finish up so that she could collect $250.00, she was not paying any of the credit card bills in her name, the car payment, the phones, the mortgage, food, gas all paid for by her husband, I have the evidence.

    In any police investigation of a murder or even a missing person case, the cops always want to know who was the last person the victim had contact with and were there any surveillance tapes of recent activity, if she was at home who did she talk to, if she had gone out for the night, a night of dancing and drinking like at the Dyersburg Country Club Halloween party then who was she with. It surely was not her husband who was back at their home, so who was she with, did she get into any altercations with anyone inside or outside of the Dyersburg Country Club Halloween party, where are the surveillance tapes? Did Sheriff Box request the video tapes from the interior and exterior surveillance cameras at the Dyersburg Country Club-The Farms, does Sheriff Box have the video tapes from the surveillance cameras at the Dyersburg Country Club Halloween party of October 29th, 2011 and if he does not, why not?

    From information from my sources there was a break in at the Dyersburg Country Club on November 1st, 2011 and the burglars stole the surveillance cameras and the recording devices and a few golf clubs, the purpose of the break in at the Dyersburg Country was to steal the surveillance equipment, what the hell?

    I have been a private investigator for over 20 years doing hundreds of ‘Cheaters Cases’, Karen Swift was living free and easy with no household bills to pay, she was working 3 jobs for her own money, she was away from home a lot, she was involved in various hot tub parties with a lot of booze and without her husband, she was not paying for the 3 bank credit cards in her name only and yet she was broke all the time, where did all her cash go and to whom? Karen Swift was living the party life, just like the night she went to the Dyersburg Country Club Halloween Party as ‘Catwoman’ in a skintight black costume without her husband on Saturday night October 29th, 2011 and stays until about 11:58 pm, early next morning Sunday October 30th 2011 at about 5:00 am she is up and out of the Swift home and on the road, ‘goes missing’ at 5:30 am and turns up dead, her body found near the access road to Bledsoe Cemetery on December 10th, 2011. Karen Swift may have just come between a Dyersburg married man and his wealthy family.

  2. Mr. Warner, what did David Swift do for work? How do you know his family is wealthy?

  3. Pretty crazy story alright. But I somehow believe the husband is guilty. Sounds like he had plenty of time to come up with a plan. Probably got crazy over the way his wife carried on. Revenge

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