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.