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Body identified as that of Swift, case being investigated as homicide

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 ~ Updated 6:56 AM

The body recovered by investigators on Saturday has been positively identified as Karen Swift. Swift, a mother of four, was reported missing on Sunday, Oct. 30.
Dyer County Sheriff's Department investigators and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation are now working the case of Karen Swift as a murder investigation after her body was positively identified by the Shelby County Medical Examiner's Office on Sunday.

Dyer County Sheriff Jeff Box stated the body, which was found on Saturday, was able to be identified as Swift's through her dental records, which were sent along with her body to the medical examiner's office in Memphis.

Swift's body had reportedly been concealed in an area off of Harness Road until someone discovered it on Saturday. Box said the body had been concealed by undergrowth and vegetation for some time close to Bledsoe Cemetery, which lies off of Harness Road. The location where her body was found is approximately three miles northwest from where Swift's 2004 Nissan Murano was found abandoned with a reported flat tire at the intersection of Millsfield Highway and Harness Road on Sunday, Oct. 30.

Karen Swift's body was found just off Harness Road between the Cross and Bledsoe cemetery in this remote area of Kudzu on Saturday.
Box stated the injuries to Swift's body, coupled with the placement of it, warranted the investigation to switch from a missing-person case to a murder investigation.

"Due to her body being placed and concealed in the area that it was recovered from and apparent injuries to her body it has been ruled a homicide," said Box in an interview with the State Gazette. "We are currently awaiting results of an autopsy from the medical examiner's office in Memphis to determine the cause of death."

The body was found in a place that is normally covered in kudzu, approximately 100 yards from a tall metal cross that sits high on a bluff. The cross is visible looking south from Highway 78, close to the Obion River Bridge.

Authorities attribute recent cold-weather conditions for suppressing and deadening the undergrowth that had Swift's body concealed from view.

Since Swift's disappearance, the sheriff's department has been gathering potential evidence, interviewing people, and performing searches in an attempt to find her or her body and determine if there was foul play involved.

Authorities are not naming any suspects in the case, nor are they releasing any information about how the body was discovered due to it being an ongoing murder investigation.

"We will continue to move forward with the homicide investigation," said Box.

This large metal cross sits off of Harness Road and can be seen from Highway 78. Karen Swift's body was found approximately 100 yards from the cross in an area that is normally overgrown with kudzu. Dyer County Sheriff Jeff Box stated that due to the placement and apparent injuries to the Swift's body, the case is being investigated as a homicide.
One of Swift's best friends, Cathy Bona, reacted to Monday's news about Swift.

"We are all very sad and are going to miss her so much," said Bona in a written statement. "We pray that God gives the law enforcement guidance and all the information they need to get justice for her!!!"

Bona and others that knew Swift had ruled out the scenario that Swift had run away, citing the love of her children, future plans, and payment for recent work done for Habitat for Humanity (see Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011, edition of the State Gazette).

Swift was reported missing on Sunday, Oct. 30, when her 2004 Nissan Murano was discovered near the intersection of Harness Road and Millsfield Highway with a flat tire. She had filed for divorce from her husband, David Swift, on Oct. 10, but still resided with him and their two daughters at their residence on Willie Johnson Road.

Karen Swift had been to a Halloween party at the Dyersburg Country Club-The Farms on the Saturday evening, Oct. 29. She reportedly arrived home sometime after midnight after picking up one of her daughters from a sleepover because she did not feel well. Box stated David Swift allegedly spoke with Karen Swift briefly in the stairwell after she and the child were inside the house. Authorities allege David Swift told them he awoke the next morning (Sunday, Oct. 30) and could not find his wife and tried calling her cell phone with no answer. Soon afterward, a neighbor called David Swift to tell him Karen Swift's SUV was on Millsfield Highway. He is then alleged to have called one of their sons in Arkansas to see if he could reach Karen Swift, but to no avail. David Swift is then reported to have called some of Karen Swift's friends to see if they had seen her.

At 2:37 p.m., a friend of Karen Swift's called the Dyer County Sheriff's Department and notified them she was missing and the dispatcher advised her that David Swift should call and give details. He is then reported to have called the sheriff's department and given them details about what was going on. Soon after, deputies arrived and discovered the SUV had a flat tire. They searched the Swift residence and later impounded the vehicle.

On Monday, Oct. 30, Box along with other officers and a K-9 unit from Fort Pillow Penitentiary searched the area around Swift's house and where the vehicle was found.

Throughout the rest of the week, officers searched the area for Swift and potential evidence in the case and her vehicle was sent to the TBI's crime lab in Nashville for processing. Personnel from the Dyer County Sheriff's Dept., Tennessee Highway Patrol Strike Teams, a THP helicopter, the Dyer County Rescue Squad, and members of the Shelby County Sheriff's Dept. took part in searches across the county.

THP Strike Team members and others found potential evidence, believed to be connected to Swift, during numerous searches. Box would not release what was found.

Bledsoe Cemetery, established in 1864, lies just several yards from where Karen Swift's body was found.
On Saturday, Nov. 5, John Hogshooter, 39, Pennell Lane, was arrested by sheriff's officers for aggravated animal cruelty while they were performing a search of a wooded area on Harness Road. Hogshooter was accused of poisoning two dogs in the area, one of which belonged to the Swifts. A warrant was signed for his arrest and he was taken into custody as he pulled into a property of his on Harness Road.

Dyer County Sheriff's Dept. Chief Investigator Terry McCreight said due to the nature of Hogshooter's case and the proximity to the Swifts' residence they had to look at him as part of their investigation into her disappearance. As a result, Hogshooter's vehicle was temporarily impounded and investigators searched his Harness Road residence.

McCreight said Hogshooter's vehicle was released back to him and no noteworthy evidence was found during their search at the time.

On Thursday, Nov. 10, as part of the Dyer County Sheriff's Department's investigation into Swift's disappearance, the TBI's Violent Crimes Response Team was at her Willie Johnson Road residence processing potential evidence. TBI spokesperson Kristin Helm stated Special Agent Forensic Scientists out of the Memphis crime lab responded to the Swift residence to look for evidence of a crime scene. They are specially trained to look for trace evidence that could be collected and processed back at the laboratory.

Searches in the area of Swift's home and other parts of Dyer County were performed by multiple agencies throughout the next month until her body was found on Saturday.

The Dyer County Sheriff's Office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation are jointly investigating Swift's death.

The Dyer County Sheriff's Office requests that any person with information about this case contact the Dyer County Sheriff's Office at 731-285-2802 or call the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.

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This is horrible! I pray they catch the killer(s) soon!

-- Posted by Dude2010 on Mon, Dec 12, 2011, at 12:47 PM

I pray they find the monster who did this to this beautiful young Mother.

Prayer for her family , her children are most assuredly going to need much prayer to get through this horrible nightmare.

-- Posted by LadyKim on Mon, Dec 12, 2011, at 1:51 PM

I pray for her 4 children that they will be comforted. The killer knows who they are and I Hope they are haunted for the rest of their life !

This is sooo terrible and really seems odd that she was taken from her home and her soon to be ex husband heard nothing. Sure does look real bad on him....When they catch the party responsible I hope they are done the same way this lady was....

Go back in the day and hang them in the courthouse yard while being ridiculed and heckled until they take their last breath. Come forward you coward and face what you have coming.

-- Posted by lots of questions on Mon, Dec 12, 2011, at 5:24 PM

I hate to be the first one to say it but HOW good of an investigation has taken place when she was found in a wooded area, just a few miles from her home and vehicle??? Where on earth did law enforcement look if not here? My goodness. May she rest in peace, God bless her.

-- Posted by Darby on Mon, Dec 12, 2011, at 6:57 PM

Darby, I'm with you on this one. Did they not have K-9 units from surrounding counties helping also? That kind of discredits the ability of the dogs doesn't it.

-- Posted by BroJams on Mon, Dec 12, 2011, at 8:43 PM

Seems strange her husband has not appeared on T.V. to ask for her killer to come forward or say that he wants her back. I thought the sheriffs dept had searched this area.

-- Posted by sassy52 on Mon, Dec 12, 2011, at 8:45 PM

To answer my own question, yes they did use dogs, but her body was found on the other end of harness road and past her house, as opposed to where her car was found. Obviously someone moved her body to this location.Possibly hit by drunk driver or something and they paniced. Who knows but I hope they are able to find answers.

-- Posted by BroJams on Mon, Dec 12, 2011, at 8:49 PM

I see alot people are starting to think the same thing ive thought all along. Sassy 52 your right on it. Why would anybody else slit the tire. Why did the bloodhounds never trail away from her car? Because she never was in the car when it was put there. The car had to of been put there for a decoy. Who was the last one to see her alive ?? But everything will have to be in place before they make an arrest. I beleive most can figure this out. Beleive me, there will be an arrest. It may be tommorow and it maybe a year from now. But it will happen now that they have the body.

-- Posted by string31 on Mon, Dec 12, 2011, at 10:30 PM

to hide a body the way she was hidden shows remorse. not random, really close. Pray for the younger children especially. The killer will be picked up soon. I for one do not expect to be surprised. Pray for the law enforcement community, Their job is stressful and they need our support and prayers. To the Johnson family, I will be praying for you all God be with you.

-- Posted by seahawk1 on Mon, Dec 12, 2011, at 11:36 PM

From how the article was written it gave me the impression that she was placed where she was found not killed. Also, if someone did hit by accident then blood would have been found(none was found). I am not an investigator but doesn't it look as if she was murdered in another location? Remember, I am only going by what has been reported.

-- Posted by ohyeah67 on Tue, Dec 13, 2011, at 12:36 AM

Like I've said all along!!!,Her" hubsand " knows!!So how much longer will Law enforcement take to solve this case???? Such a Beautiful Mother!Gone But Not Forgotten may Her Soul rest in Peace... My heart goes out to her children.

-- Posted by DBURGIRL on Tue, Dec 13, 2011, at 12:52 AM

Hell is to cold for the person who committed this murder to a mother of 4 children. They will not get by with it for the Bible says "Vengenace is mine saith the Lord. There is always a here after that each of us will answer to when we stand before the Lord. Prayer upon prayer need to be sent up for these children especially at this time of year. May God Bless their little souls.

-- Posted by Gerty on Tue, Dec 13, 2011, at 2:51 AM

You people need to watch more CSI to get more training. Crazy Dyer Co residents!!!

-- Posted by time2change on Tue, Dec 13, 2011, at 7:04 AM

where you from know it all ? Hazard County Kentucky ? Yes you time2change

-- Posted by lots of questions on Tue, Dec 13, 2011, at 7:46 AM

Time2change, this is not the time nor the place for you to hurl insults at anyone. If you don't like Dyer County residents, keep it to yourself and stop accusing them of being crazy.

Thoughts and prayers for Karen's family & friends. May the truth be revealed soon and her precious life be avenged.

-- Posted by talk2t53 on Tue, Dec 13, 2011, at 7:51 AM

I thought that this Hogshooter man lived right by Karen on Willie Rd. This article states that they searched his property on Harness Rd ?? Isn't that a bit odd ?

And just a thought , but what if Karen got up early to go and finish that House she was cleaning? And was taken from there ?

-- Posted by LadyKim on Tue, Dec 13, 2011, at 9:16 AM

A terrible thing to happen here and as always a lot of armchair detectives,let the police follow leads and evidence,they have be sure of them

Every i must be dotted and every t crossed

God bless the family

-- Posted by tank2 on Tue, Dec 13, 2011, at 9:49 AM

Since praying for her safe return didn't work lets pray for her family to get through this.

-- Posted by omgwtf on Tue, Dec 13, 2011, at 11:59 AM

So much for all the folks who went and stood in the cold holding candles so that they could be seen caring.

-- Posted by A Touch of Reality on Tue, Dec 13, 2011, at 1:37 PM

Oh my goodness , that is a terrible thing to think , even more so to post.

Quit possibly there are many people that do care about this woman. Goodness , your name should be " out of touch with reality "

-- Posted by LadyKim on Tue, Dec 13, 2011, at 2:09 PM

DBURGGIRL, it helps to have a body for forensics to solve a case. Goodness, they are waiting on the autopsy and other clues. This has not been out of the news or anyones prayers at any day, or time. I think we all have a person of interest, but two days after the recovery of the body, and you are going to be critical. Please.

-- Posted by vixenvol on Tue, Dec 13, 2011, at 6:45 PM

LadyKim: I thought that too. He lived on Harness Rd. close to where she did. I went back and read that he used to live on Harness Rd. and at the time of her abduction he actually lived (and still does) on Pennel Lane.

A Touch of Reality: You are cold and cruel, did you know Karen? Did you have some sort of problem with her? Where were you when she went missing?

-- Posted by raspberrie on Tue, Dec 13, 2011, at 7:08 PM

Hogshooter wasnt even in the area when this happened. So forget about him being involved. Karens cell phone text, desperate call call that night tells us that there was some arguing going on between her and her husband. Her husband we know was controlling as we all know, and he said he watched her leave out the door and does nothing to find her that night. I dont beleive that for one second. I beleive she died on her property. Then her body was taken to the cemetary. Then the car was drove out of Harness rd. and turns right toward Dyersburg then a quick left U turn where the car was pulled off and then he gets out and slits the tire in a panic to try and throw the police off. Then trotts back to the house before little girl wakes. Because if he takes the car a long ways off and he walks back then dogs might be barking to alert someone. If you take the car a long ways off, he would have to call a freind to come and pick him up. And that would throw up a red flag. And also the cadiver dogs never trails away from the car because Karens body would not of ever been pulled from the car because she wasnt in there when the car was put there.It makes no sense for anyone else to have done this. Its a shame this happened. If i had a loved one come up missing i would be the first person looking for them. He has not even made a public plea for her safe return. Everything points to him.

-- Posted by string31 on Tue, Dec 13, 2011, at 7:56 PM

Wow, sring31.......take a breath......that is very hard to follow. I read it several times, but spaces and punctuation are good things. And grammar.

-- Posted by vixenvol on Tue, Dec 13, 2011, at 8:53 PM

Not taking away from the how serious the situation is, I just got a bit distracted trying to get to your point.

-- Posted by vixenvol on Tue, Dec 13, 2011, at 8:56 PM

Vixenvol im sorry it takes you so long to understand what your reading. You might need to get somebody to help you out with that. It doesnt sound like your very educated. You dont even know how to spell string. Its string, not (sring) lol. You are funny.

-- Posted by string31 on Tue, Dec 13, 2011, at 9:30 PM

Please don't judge her husband until all facts and evidence are reviewed. If he did it, the truth will come out. If not, my heart goes out to him for the anguish he must be going through.. knowing he is being accused by some, for a crime he knows he did not commit. I pray this family will have answers. I have been where they are.

-- Posted by Moved2WA on Tue, Dec 13, 2011, at 11:17 PM

It would be you're, and I am.

-- Posted by vixenvol on Wed, Dec 14, 2011, at 12:56 AM

It doesn't take a mind-reader to figure this one out.This woman would not not have left in the middle of the night to clean a house or run-away with another man..

God bless her children and may her soul rest in peace.

Stop trying to blame Hogshooter, it's not him.

-- Posted by Hilda Curtis on Wed, Dec 14, 2011, at 6:37 AM


Where did you get your information from concerning the desperate cell phone calls?

I didn't hear or read anything about that. Nor did I hear anything about Karens husband watching her leave the house that morning.

And if Karens body was trasported in the vehicle after her death ( even minutes ) the dogs would have picked up her scent.

I pray that the LE will soon tell us that they have a suspect in custody. And this poor family can get some answers.

-- Posted by LadyKim on Wed, Dec 14, 2011, at 12:40 PM

It has been stated many times that Karen's husband said he was at the top of the stairs when she left, and asked her where she was going. Also, it has been stated that there was no scent of Karen outside of her car.

-- Posted by vixenvol on Wed, Dec 14, 2011, at 5:27 PM

prayers go out for the children and the family's loss.we need more community watch programs to try and prevent such things as this from happening,or report it when we see something irregular going on in our neighborhoods,am i my brothers keeper? no, but maybe i should be.

-- Posted by k4act on Wed, Dec 14, 2011, at 6:52 PM

Vixenvol ,

Thank you , I just hadn't come across that info before.

-- Posted by LadyKim on Thu, Dec 15, 2011, at 7:24 AM


Please attach a link to where you read this. All the stories I have read have this scenario that is in this news article;

"Box stated David Swift allegedly spoke with Karen Swift briefly in the stairwell after she and the child were inside the house. Authorities allege David Swift told them he awoke the next morning (Sunday, Oct. 30) and could not find his wife and tried calling her cell phone with no answer."

-- Posted by shermann on Thu, Dec 15, 2011, at 8:02 AM

Would the detectives be able to use scent dogs to detect if her husband was in the area where her body was found?

-- Posted by kay davis on Thu, Dec 15, 2011, at 2:54 PM

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Karen Swift search, Nov. 19, 2011