Women who knew Swift rule out possibility that she ran off on her own

Thursday, December 8, 2011
Mary Claire Hopper holds her phone containing texts from Karen Swift before her disappearance. Hopper notes Swift was communicating to her about plans to finish a cleaning job on Sunday, Oct. 30, the day she was reported missing. Swift had already worked for several days cleaning the house and stood to earn at least from $250-$300 for the job.

The investigation into the disappearance of Karen Swift has been going on for over a month with still not sign of the mother of four.

As Dyer County Sheriff's investigators are scouring over information and looking into every possible scenario as to what could have happened to her, some women that knew Swift are ruling out the possibility that she ran away.

Mary Claire Hopper, Laura Gentry and Cathy Bona all knew Swift and all say that their interaction with her on the days leading up to her disappearance show a woman that had plans for the future.

Hopper, director of Habitat for Humanity in Northwest Tennessee, knew Swift from the YMCA of Dyer County where they both worked out. Hopper is also an aerobics instructor at the YMCA, as was Swift. Swift had begun teaching an aerobics class called Silver Sneakers, which is a fitness program for older adults.

The two were working out on Tuesday, Oct. 25, when Swift said she was looking for some cleaning jobs. It just so happened that Hopper had a Habitat for Humanity house on Walnut Street in Trimble that was in bad need of a cleaning.

Karen Swift (middle) poses with two of her friends Cathy Bona (left) and Laura Gentry (right) after the Sam Bomar Memorial 5K Run/Walk in Jackson, Tenn. in June of this year. Bona and Gentry are just two of Swift's friends that say they have ruled out the possibility that Swift went missing on her own.

"It was perfect timing," said Hopper. "We were just talking and she said 'if you know anybody that has any cleaning jobs to give me a call'. It was a circumstantial coincidence that she asked me and I needed somebody to help clean up the house."

The house had been foreclosed on and Hopper described the inside as being in less-than-pleasant condition.

"It was really dirty," said Hopper. "There was a lot of work that needed to be done. I thought I was going to have to call a professional service it was so bad."

Hopper says this is when the two began to exchange text messages about Swift's new job as an aerobics instructor and the cleaning job.

* Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011

Swift - "OMG! I am loving Silver Sneakers."

Hopper - "Aren't they sweet?"

Swift - "Love them!"

Swift - "Did you go by the house?"

Hopper - "Yes it already looks better."

* Friday, Oct. 28

Swift - "OK I am about to set (bug)bombs off & lock up, been here since 7:30! I will have to come back. Got bathrooms to do. Mop also stove and fridge. Is Wednesday soon enough? I can tomorrow if you need me to. I work Monday and have a landscape job Tuesday."

* Saturday, Oct. 29, 2 p.m.

Hopper - "Don't worry about the fridge and stove. Getting new ones. Wednesday is fine. Great thanks! I will pay you as soon as possible."

Swift - "Hey, if I don't have to do fridge & stove. I will finish it early in the morning."

The last text Swift sent Hopper was referring to cleaning the house on Sunday morning (Oct. 30), the day she was reported missing.

Hopper found out Swift was missing after Swift's best friend, Cathy Bona, texted her and said they were looking for her.

"I thought she was probably at the Trimble house," said Hopper.

After a short time had passed, Bona called Hopper and said they had found her car with a flat tire and Swift was missing.

"The worst just started going through my mind," said Hopper.

Hopper had not paid Swift for cleaning the house, but said she was going to make at least $250 - $300 and possibly more because it was a lot of work she did.

Laura Gentry has text messages from Karen Swift saying the two were going to meet on Tuesday, Nov. 1, to work at Gentry's house. Swift was reported missing on Sunday, Oct. 30.

Laura Gentry is Swift's friend who Swift was supposed to do the landscaping with on Tuesday, Nov. 1. Gentry knew Swift because their daughters were in dance class together and they both worked out at the YMCA.

"On Tuesday (Nov. 1), we were going to spend the whole day working," said Gentry. "We were looking forward to catching up."

Gentry and Swift exchanged several text messages talking about the upcoming landscaping job.

* Tuesday, Oct. 25

Swift - "OK if u are willing to help me, it will be a long hard, fast pace, non stop day! I like to work hard and get it done! We will have your landscaping in tip top shape! $100 is what I can do!

Gentry - "Sounds good to me! Thanks Karen!"

Swift - "Let me know when you are ready."

Gentry - "Prob not till next week...Tues, Wed, Fri works for me. Or we can wait if u hav stuff to do...I'm flexible."

Swift - "Tuesday is great!"

Gentry - "Done!"

Swift - (smiley face)

Gentry said she last spoke to Swift on Friday, Oct. 28, and they again planned to meet at her house to do the landscaping.

"She was like, 'I'll see you Tuesday'," said Gentry.

Swift was one of Bona's closest friends and she too states Swift had plans for the future and would not have disappeared on her own. She says Swift also exchanged text messages with her about her upcoming plans and new jobs.

* Thursday, Oct. 27, 7:19 a.m.

Swift - "Found out Ann Buckner needs house keeper! She is supposed to call me!"

Swift - "Working at Laura's Tuesday! Work is coming in like crazy! Starting a new class at Y in next couple of weeks!"

Bona - "sounds like its going in the right direction!!!"

* Thursday Oct. 27, 6:54 p.m.

Swift - "Looking for one more house to clean! With 3 houses, SilverSneakers & the other class Patrick wants me to start, I will be fine! May do Tues & Thurs evenings about 5 or so!"

Bona says Swift was taking on jobs like Hopper's and Gentry's so she could have more of an income.

"She wanted to be independent and self sufficient with an upcoming divorce," said Bona. "Every time (a job) came up, she would get so excited."

Swift had filed for divorce from her husband, David, but was still residing at the residence with him on Willie Johnson Road when she was reported missing on Sunday, Oct. 30.

Bona says she has totally ruled out the possibility that Swift left on her own, mainly because she loved her children.

"She would never leave those girls," said Bona.

Gentry shares the same sentiment as Bona about Swift's love for her children.

"Karen is a loyal friend and fiercely protective mother," said Gentry. "There is no way she would have left those kids willingly."

Bona also says Swift would not have run off if she was still expecting to get paid for all the hard work she put into cleaning the house in Trimble.

"Why would you run off after you cleaned a house like that," asked Bona. "You wouldn't. She wasn't asking for the money until she was finished and she still had one more day."

Randy Bulter, executive director of the YMCA, was Swift's boss at the facility and had known her since 2008. He had spoken with Swift on the Thursday before her disappearance and says she was upbeat about new things taking place in her life.

"I just chatted with her about how things were going," said Butler. "She was talking to me about becoming a personal trainer and the plans about the new classes at the YMCA and she had just got certified. She also said she had two landscaping jobs."

He said Swift was a very hard worker and praised her for her work ethic.

"She was a model beginning part-time employee," said Butler. "I wish I could have three or four more like of her because good instructors are hard to find."

Butler said he saw a transformation in Swift as she dove into her new job as an aerobics instructor.

"She was getting comfortable with teaching and I saw her build confidence," said Butler. "She was kind of shy and she kind of grew as a person. She talked to me a couple of times on how to be (fitness) instructor and the Silver Sneakers class was enjoying her. She was an avid runner and took a lot of the different classes. She had a passion to get out and move."

He noted that when the news of Swift's disappearance made its way around the facility, many were grief stricken.

"Everybody heard she was missing and it was a real somber tone," said Butler. "There were a lot of upset people that couldn't understand why she would be missing."

Dyer County Sheriff Jeff Box said his department continues to make Swift's case their top priority and text messages from Swift are part of the information they are piecing together.

"The department has a tremendous amount of electronic data on Karen Swift," said Box. "But, we are still asking the public if they have any information about her to contact us. We are looking for anybody that has similar text messages. There may be some messages that didn't show up in our phone records. And she may have sent them from another phone.

"We are still putting this case together and still believe there are people that may have seen things that we do not know," said Box. "We are always looking for the right bits and pieces to solve a case."

Box is still encouraging anybody with any information about Swift, no matter how minute or insignificant it may seem, to contact the sheriff's department.

"Anyone that has any communication from Swift may forward messages to us," said Box. "And anyone that wants to come forward with information or any sensitive information, we will treat it with the utmost confidence."

Box noted information on Swift can also be emailed to sheriff@co.dyer.tn.us .

Swift, a 44-year-old mother of four was last seen early Sunday morning, Oct. 30, by her husband at their home on Willie Johnson Road after she reportedly returned from a Halloween party. Her white 2004 Nissan Murano was later found on Sunday, Oct. 30, on Millsfield Highway near the intersection of Harness Road with a flat tire.

Karen Johnson Swift is described as:

Age: 44

Race: White

DOB: 1/25/67

Hair: Blonde

Eyes: Green

Height: 5' 5"

Weight: 138 lbs.

Anyone who has had contact with Swift, recalls seeing anyone near her vehicle since her disappearance on Sunday, Oct. 30, or has information regarding her whereabouts is asked to contact the Dyer County Sheriff's Office at 731-285-2802.

Crime Stoppers of Dyer County is offering a cash reward for information that would lead to an arrest and conviction in this case. Callers can reach Crime Stoppers at 731-285-TIPS (8477).

View 15 comments
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. Please note that those who post comments on this website may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.
  • If you People DO NOT know what happened to Karen, Her HUSBAND Knows!!!!!!!!!!!

    -- Posted by DBURGIRL on Thu, Dec 8, 2011, at 10:23 AM
  • I know a couple of the people that Karen is friends with. Those that are close to Karen most likely have gone over in their brains the last month and a half the conversations and her attitude during the days and weeks before her disappearance. Texts messages have been read and re-read a 1000 times. This woman did not have plans to go any where.

    The public is more educated on this now than they were 20 years ago mostly due to documentary shows on TV now.

    Something has happened to this woman by someone who had planned it for a very long time. It could be anyone....SOP is to look at the closest one, her husband. He has been ruled out according to reports. The guy about the dog issue...really now does he fit the profile? I don't think so. So give him break.

    Law Enforcement is looking at every person of interest brought to their attention.

    Ladies, maybe you could think of someone who has inserted themselves into your group since then. Male or female. Think of someone who hung around and since Karen's disappearance is no longer available. Was there a strange vehicle around that she complained about? Did she say anything about feeling watched?

    You have heard these questions many times. You have been told nothing is too small. Nothing is.

    Let us pray that she is alive. Let's hope she has not been hurt.


    She is the second woman this year that has gone missing in West Tennessee that I can think of. Holly Bobo was a small blond and light eye woman. Can anyone think of anyone else? Could these disappearances be connected?

    It makes you think...doesn't it?

    -- Posted by ohyeah67 on Thu, Dec 8, 2011, at 10:25 AM
  • Hiring a lawyer for divorce and paying filing fees for it is not cheap. It doesn't surprise me she was using elbow grease to make money. You don't pay that kind of money out for a divorce and then just run off, nobody does that. There is no way she voluntarily disrobed and left her clothing out in the field on the side of the road either. I think the conclusion that she did not voluntarily disappear is so obvious from the facts I am surprised someone would write an article about it.

    -- Posted by LisaDe on Thu, Dec 8, 2011, at 10:27 AM
  • they need to look more close at the husband he was the last one to see her . My prayer r w/ everyone thats looking for her .

    -- Posted by a.c on Thu, Dec 8, 2011, at 4:07 PM

    I don't believe the sheriff or anyone else has stated the husband has been cleared. That is not true!

    -- Posted by Lynns Opinion on Thu, Dec 8, 2011, at 5:57 PM
  • I do hope that law enforcement isn't spending too much time thinking that Karen simply ran away from her life and her problems. Nothing about this case screams anything other than an abduction or her husband doing something to her, period. We need to get real here. My thoughts after reading her friend's comments about the house that Karen was cleaning were that possibly, since she was awake after picking up her daughter from the Halloween party, she went back to the Habitat house to finish cleaning it. It's not impossible. Then, on her way back home from the Habitat house, if her car got a flat tire and she started walking towards home, a crime-of-opportunity could have happened. A lot of sex offenders talk about how they would pick victims simply because the victim was in the right place at the right time (wrong place, wrong time for the victim.) Or...the husband didn't want Karen to start living her own life and he did something to her. That's not impossible, either. I can't believe that law enforcement doesn't have any viable scenarios. Why?

    -- Posted by Darby on Thu, Dec 8, 2011, at 9:49 PM
  • So now the Law Enforcement Gazette is in the business of smear campaigns? Obviously this story is just an attempt to paint the husband in a less than positive light.

    -- Posted by Happy_Gilmore on Fri, Dec 9, 2011, at 7:53 AM
  • Lynns Opinion...I never stated the husband was cleared. I stated that law enforcement ruled him out. Law enforcement never clears anyone until they convict the guilty. It is a play on words but in the legal system one never commits. It is always iffy.

    -- Posted by ohyeah67 on Fri, Dec 9, 2011, at 12:28 PM
  • I believe the body of Karen Swift will be found on local property.

    I have been meditating on the case since it broke and I see her as being found in a wooded area in the vicinity of a drainage ditch which I consider manmade since I see lite cinder blocks as part of the ditch near what looks like an access road.

    The area where her body is has broken tree limbs that come down in storm and they are older pieces of broken wood.

    I see a femer bone and part of a femer bone to indicate by the time they find her some time has passed and animals of the night have found her before the searchers do and that is what happens when people are murdered and tossed out in the woods by people who are angry at them, lose their temper and kill them and toss them away like a piece of garbage then go on as if nothing happened.

    I believe she was a beautiful woman who loved her children and the man who did this deserves to be haunted by her forever or until he confesses to what he has done to those childrens mother.

    -- Posted by Cvt6702 on Sat, Dec 10, 2011, at 2:41 AM
  • I don't really expect anyone to believe my posts since I am giving this information as a psychic and people don't want to accept that some people have the gift to revisit murder scenes and know who did the killing then be able to pinpoint what the killer did with the body and because no one wants to believe that some psychics have this gift no one listens to these tips and quite often the killer goes free and the body is never found and it becomes an unsolved cold case.

    There is no connection between Karens Case and that of Holly Bobo and other blond women in the area the only thing Karen and the others have in common is they are all pretty blonde women and it appears to be open season on pretty blond women who make a man angry enough to kill them.

    Because no one will listen to a psychics information on the Susan Powell case her killer has gone free and the story was aired on Dateline last night.

    Josh Powell killed Susan in a fit of anger and disposed of her body and has the gall to go on Dateline and proclaim his innocence to the world.

    Because no one much listens to psychics O.J. Simpson killed his wife and her friend and went free and the book he wrote which everyone bought tells it just like it is it was a veiled confession.

    As a Psychic I went back in time and saw O.J. that night go over the fence at Nicholes home wearing the famed black shirt and gloves then I saw him his face filled with anger standing over the bodies with a bloody knife held in his right hand.

    he went free because no one believed my Psychic information submited, and Holly Bobo's case goes unsolved because no one believes my information about the Killer.

    -- Posted by Cvt6702 on Sat, Dec 10, 2011, at 3:09 AM
  • Cvt6702-i do believe in psychics and i would like your thought on the holly bobo case, what do you think happened?

    -- Posted by denise62665 on Sat, Dec 10, 2011, at 8:52 PM
  • I think a psychic is able to see future events. I think something else called something else is able to see past events they did not participate in or find lost things somebody else lost. I recall a horrific, vicious murder case in Mayfield, KY many years ago that involved several people and at least 2 of them kept showing up for vigils and rallies, they would hug the neck of the grieving parents, go around town wearing T-shirts handed out at rallies, passing out fliers etc. They did that for 6 years until they finally got caught and one of the people turned out to be the one who actually lit the match to throw on the body to burn it up. Many times guilty parties participate in searches for the body. So I disagree with the person who said to focus on someone who has inserted themselves into friend's circle then all of a sudden isn't around anymore. Nobody has been cleared in this case because as of today we still don't know if the body is Karen's. I think people should be extra careful. Desperate people do desperate things, and I think that is something people should be on the look out for.

    -- Posted by LisaDe on Sun, Dec 11, 2011, at 3:34 PM
  • Cvt6702, how might one reach you regarding Jacque Waller who has been missing in Jackson, Mo. since June?

    -- Posted by ejt on Mon, Dec 12, 2011, at 9:05 PM
  • The previous post are very interesting! I have followed Karen's disappearance, as well as Holly Bobo, Michelle Parker, and Tara Grinstead, with great interest. The facts of Karen's death are much different than the others mentioned. Careful study of articles and facts to date, these post, regarding Karen, tells me it will not be a surprise when the person responsible is arrested!!! I fully believe her death was an accident, that the person responsible would never, in his right mind, harm Karen! A crying heart from loss of love and affection, and a mind racing with thoughts of someone else being the recipient of those affections can get out of hand in a rage of passion! Can cause the best of us to do things we would never, ever consider doing! #1: filed for divorce 20 days before! #2: living under the same roof, obviously separate bedrooms! All is OK up til now! Then comes the party, #3, her being in the same party scene with other males, regardless if Karen, in reality, ever spoke to a man at the party, a rejected heart and mind are racing with painful scenarios, for hours.....heart being ripped apart like being pushed through a paper shredder...pain none of us ever want to experience....then Karen comes home and we can only speculate what happened from there! Why would she leave home again, after midnight, unless trying to escape a hostile environment!

    And readers...PLEASE understand these are only my thoughts, based on published facts on this tragic situation! With deep concern for this shattered heart, and consideration for those four children!!!! I so hope I'm wrong!!!!

    All citizens are to understand that the TBI and other law enforcement officers are totally capable of solving this murder, and probably already know who, and are putting the final pieces together for a solid case! Law enforcement will not publish all they know, as they should not!!! Please understand they are doing their job, and are under no obligation to publish all they know!!! Trust them and stand by for their results!

    -- Posted by pisince1970 on Wed, Dec 14, 2011, at 12:43 PM
  • I have not been on here for a few days had some computer problems but will try to answer those who spoke to me.

    I believe I know who killed Karen but will not post that here but let law enforcement answer that.

    I believe many women are killed by those who love them and who are afraid of going on without them.

    And thats why I am not posting any names on the internet accusing the ones i suspect trom my psychic information but quite often i do pass on tips to law enforcement.

    I believe Holly Bobo like many others was kidnapped and killed by a man she at one time was romantically involved with and I believe he had help in the abduction because I see two young men involved and I did pass that information along to authorities and maybe one day this case will be solved.

    I feel very close to the people I gather information on after they come up missing and when they are found murdered I feel very sad.

    At times I even feel sorry for the killers that they let themselves get into such an angry uncontrollable state that they killed people they love.

    I believe if those killers knew what I know they would be so distraut they would confess because i know as a channel who communicates with victims and sometimes have them appear to me know that the spirits of the dead can roam the earth and revisit their homes and even hang around with their killers sometimes getting into their thoughts in such a sad state that sometimes the killers begin to be so tormented by feeling the presence of their victims that they eventually confess in many cases.

    Eventually after their killers have been brought to justice the restless spirits of the dead travel upward to heaven where they rejoin their relatives and friends who have gone before.

    -- Posted by Cvt6702 on Fri, Dec 16, 2011, at 2:52 PM
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: