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Dyer County man describes finding Swift's body

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Karen Swift
As the investigation into the murder of Karen Swift enters its first week, one of the men who discovered her body is speaking about the find that could solve this case.

John Robinson, the preacher at Bogota Church of Christ, made the discovery along with his friend, Mark Rickman, on Saturday as they were leaving Bledsoe Cemetery (off Harness Road) around noon.

"At least they can quit looking for her and start looking for somebody," said Robinson.

The body of Karen Swift was found on Saturday by John Robinson and his friend Mark Rickman as they were traveling toward Harness Road from Bledsoe Cemetery (in the background). Swift's body was found approximately where the X is located in the photo.
He and Rickman had gone to the cemetery, which Robinson is a trustee of, to look at some tombstones that had overturned. As the men got back into their truck and began driving toward Harness Road, both of them spotted something they believed looked like a body part jutting from kudzu vines, approximately 40-50 feet from the cemetery road to their right. The men got out and began to walk closer, not fully knowing what it was they were looking at.

"We noticed a body part from a distance and the closer I got, you could tell it was a body," said Robinson.

The men walked closer until they were positive what they were seeing was indeed a body. Robinson said he and Rickman knew about the missing-person case of Karen Swift and that immediately came to mind.

Clumps of deadened kudzu lie in a semicircle after TBI agents raked the vegetation back in order to process the scene on Saturday. Dyer County Sheriff Jeff Box said the placement and concealment and apparent injures to Karen Swift's body have led them to begin a murder investigation.
"Whenever somebody is missing, that is the first thing you think of," said Robinson.

The men reportedly did not disturb the body and immediately left and notified the sheriff's department about what they had found. Dyer County Sheriff Jeff Box, sheriff's investigators, TBI agents and others involved in the case immediately arrived at the location off of Harness Road and began processing the crime scene.

The body was sent to the Shelby County Medical Examiner's Office where it was positively identified the next day as being Karen Swift. Box stated on Monday the body had been concealed by undergrowth and vegetation.

Robinson said he has travels that road to the cemetery probably every two weeks and said the recent low temperatures and frosts had caused the kudzu to wilt, thus revealing the body.

"It was kind of like hiding in plain sight," said Robinson.

He was not able to determine if Swift's body had any clothing because he did not get close enough, but only saw what he believed was skin. He also noted he did not see her face because her head was facing away from his location.

"We didn't get within 20 feet of (the body)," said Robinson.

He added the body was just lying in the kudzu and dismissed the rumor someone tried to bury her.

"There wasn't any shallow grave or none of that business," said Robinson.

Box stated due to Swift's body being placed and concealed in the area and apparent injuries the case is moving forward as a murder investigation. He and investigators feel someone placed the body at the location, but will not be able to confirm this until the medical examiner's report comes in. He expects a full report sometime within the next week to determine a definite cause of death.

Box noted the area where Robinson and Rickman found the body had not been part of their plotted searches.

"In the exact area where the body was found, there were no organized grid searches," said Box. "There had been numerous people in the area and none of those people saw the body. Because the kudzu was grown over, nobody could see her."

Mary Claire Hopper knew Swift and was saddened when she heard the news the body was hers.

"I am deeply saddened by the loss of a friend, but glad that they found Karen," said Hopper. "She deserves a proper burial, and those who loved her also deserve a chance to celebrate her life at her funeral."

Box said they are staying focused on the homicide investigation and will continue to show an increased presence in the area where Swift went missing.

"We hope to apprehend the person responsible for this as soon as possible, and meanwhile we will have an extra watch posted in these areas," said Box.

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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I know that it's important in cases like this not to get "tunnel vision" in searching for suspects. We, as bystanders, have been left in the dark and cold for too long on this case. This article suggests for us to be on the lookout for a "madman". Shame on those responsible for that. Get your ducks in a row, dot your I's and cross your t's, but have the intelligence to give the public something besides fear. I'm guessing this is just the burden of proving without a doubt what everyone suspects and ONE knows (besides God). I pray for Karen's kids today, as I have for a month and a half now.

-- Posted by standup4whatubelieve on Wed, Dec 14, 2011, at 10:24 AM


This is an interesting article I found today . Speaks volumes to me about Karens Husband.

What do all of you make of it?

-- Posted by LadyKim on Wed, Dec 14, 2011, at 10:37 AM

this is a very sad time for the family i would imagine.they are all in my prayers.

-- Posted by infamous28 on Wed, Dec 14, 2011, at 10:47 AM


-- Posted by reveal45untoyou on Wed, Dec 14, 2011, at 11:47 AM

Standup you are exactly right , that is what I got from the article also.

I think the LE may want to send out another statement to assure those of you in the area that they may indeed know who did this and that there is no reason for anyone to fear at this time.

-- Posted by LadyKim on Wed, Dec 14, 2011, at 12:21 PM

Standup4whatubelieve, I respectfully disagree with your comment about "being left in the dark and cold for too long". This was a missing-person/now homicide investigation! We don't HAVE to know all the facts, and don't NEED to know all that has been going in this investigation. Why would law enforcement NEED to give out any information that might tip off the perpetrator that he/she was under suspicion??? If this were my family member, I would WANT all the evidence to be kept under-wraps until a thorough investigation was done so nothing could or would hamper that investigation and ultimate trial. Also, where in the world is there anything said that would suggest "for us to be on the lookout for a madman"?

-- Posted by islandgirl on Wed, Dec 14, 2011, at 12:33 PM


The article didn't exactly say that anyone should watch out for a mandman , but it certainly suggests that with the PD bumping up patrols in the area "Box said they are staying focused on the homicide investigation and will continue to show an increased presence in the area where Swift went missing. "

This statement says to me that they will be watching the area.

Could be they are concerned with the publics safety.

Could mean something else all together, I really don't know.

And you are right about wanting the PD to keep things close to the vest , as not to tip off the scumbag that did this .

I guess all we can do is wait and pray.

-- Posted by LadyKim on Wed, Dec 14, 2011, at 12:50 PM

Island girl, increased presence in the area suggests to me that there is a predator lurking in the shadows, indeed there is a predator, just not the lurking kind. This is reality, not a crime drama that gets solved within the hour. Crimes are usually solved with the help of the public, more eyes more ears. The biggest clue of this case was uncovered by someone that wasn't looking for anything. Just think what could possibly be uncovered by volunteers and citizens who had something to look for.

-- Posted by standup4whatubelieve on Wed, Dec 14, 2011, at 12:51 PM

My deepest sympathy goes out to the love ones, families and friends.

I'm confused about this whole situation, if she had a flat, and had her cell phone, why had she not call for help? Have the law enforcements even retrieved any of her (call list) or as to finding her phone with her (vehicle).

But to the ending of this, may the family be at peace knowing she can have a proper funeral/burial place. Now I hope and pray they find the killer, who's on the loose! And folks are living in fear knowing this crazy person is in the area!

-- Posted by liv2ryd on Wed, Dec 14, 2011, at 1:07 PM

OK, none of us have been "left in the dark". This has been local and national news. If you felt left in the dark, there has been every opportunity to help. There have been updates on the search most everyday. I was out of town for a while, and did not feel left in the dark.

-- Posted by vixenvol on Wed, Dec 14, 2011, at 5:32 PM

The police shouldn't send out a false message to the community just to quieten their fears. If LE has no clue who did this unspeakable act it is their duty to step up patrol in the area where Karen went missing and make the community aware they are doing so.

Remember Gary Hilton? He abducted, raped, and murdered a woman in Florida who's vehicle had become stranded beside the road.

When a woman's vehicle is inoperable by the side of the road they can become targets of perverts. Especially if the woman is very attractive. Criminals seize on opportune times in order to commit their crimes.

At this time there is nothing showing her husband did this.

-- Posted by Caring on Wed, Dec 14, 2011, at 6:01 PM

Caring - there is nothing showing that her husband didn't do this, either.

It sounds like it wasn't in her nature to just leave in the middle of the night. She had gone to get her daughter, then came home, and her husband is the last person to have seen her...in the house.

All of a sudden, within 4 hours, she has left the house, her vehicle is disabled on the side of the road, and you are saying that she was picked up by a random Gary Hilton-type killer? Maybe, but, it's 50-50 at this point. Signs point to both, in my opinion, equally, to it being her husband and a stranger but I also think that law enforcement in that area doesn't have a clue.

If the two men hadn't found Karen's body, she'd still be missing, no thanks to law enforcement. They couldn't find her body, and I have a bad feeling that they won't find her killer, either.

-- Posted by Darby on Wed, Dec 14, 2011, at 8:23 PM

Vixenvol you sure are hung up on (in the dark ). I just find it hard to beleive Karen would have left her child at 1.45 in the morning. Nancy Grace said tonight on her show that they have found someone elses DNA on Karens body. So maybe they will soon make an arrest.

-- Posted by string31 on Wed, Dec 14, 2011, at 8:23 PM

I wonder what Karen was wearing the last time her husband saw her, I bet it was the clothes found near her car..

Karen signed her death warrant when she filed for divorce..., little did she know...

-- Posted by Hilda Curtis on Wed, Dec 14, 2011, at 8:59 PM

I think your right Hilda. Ive seen it happen when the wife wants out and the husband dont want nobody else to have her. And as beautiful as she was she sure wouldnt have been hard for her to find someone else. I just cant see that she would have walked out that door without her child. She was a caring mom.

-- Posted by string31 on Wed, Dec 14, 2011, at 9:42 PM

As I said before a whole lotta armchair detectives

Allow Box and his crew gather all the evidenceand make an arrest then we can all go to the court house and listen some maybe chosen for jury duty

so lets just wait it out

-- Posted by tank2 on Thu, Dec 15, 2011, at 9:21 AM


I am saying it is a strong possibility and all possibilities should be taken into consideration. Tunnel vision is the worst thing that LE can do in any case.

While it is true that 33% of married women are murdered by their spouse it also means over 66% of husbands do not commit murder and it was done by another. Such as a stranger or an acquittance. That also has to be taken into the equation.

True justice for Karen only comes when the guilty suspect is arrested. Karen's husband has been cooperative from the time she went missing and is still cooperating per LE. Is it him? I don't know but I don't think the police thinks so and they know what evidence they found in her vehicle and we do not. Personally I think they have found someone else's DNA inside her vehicle.

-- Posted by Caring on Thu, Dec 15, 2011, at 10:31 AM

OK,tank 2, we'll wait, but I'm right..

-- Posted by Hilda Curtis on Thu, Dec 15, 2011, at 10:41 AM

Thanks string 31, you're right, Karen would not have left in the middle of the night, the truth will prevail.

-- Posted by Hilda Curtis on Thu, Dec 15, 2011, at 10:45 AM

Hilda is right. It will be her husband.

I live in another state. I watch stories like this because it could have happened to me. No one would think my husb. would do this either, however, I read enough to know he would.

My husband has no emotional empathy. Apergers or sociopath. He seems to nice to others.

I made sure NOT to mention the word Divorce unless I had moved out. These types need us, their seeing eye dog. Control. money. appearance is big for them. I am sure she was divorcing him for a reason.

I am now safely away from my 'nice guy' that could have a meltdown.

*** I want to get the word out to others*** we cannot live with these guys when we are leaving them. It is deadly.

Read the case of Nancy Cooper in N.C. very similar.

I learned and saved my life.

Lawyers should not let couples live together while divorcing!

-- Posted by dana2090 on Thu, Dec 15, 2011, at 11:30 AM

Her husband is innocent.

-- Posted by Ben Wilson on Thu, Dec 15, 2011, at 2:51 PM

If y'all will read what I said, I was referring to what standup said. I don't feel that WE were left in the dark. Not that Karen swift left in the dark. Good grief. There is only so much information that the authorities can give. Many killers are found by things unsaid. Sometimes a person of interest will slip up and say something that only the killer would know. So don't judge law enforcement on how this was handled. Plus, the first thing on the agenda was to find Karen. Now that they have, the focus can switch to finding her killer.

-- Posted by vixenvol on Thu, Dec 15, 2011, at 3:33 PM

For her children's sake, I hope that it doesn't turn out to be her husband. And, I hope that Nancy Grace starts getting her facts correct. She didn't even know the proper location of our town & showed pictures from some other investigation in a different state.I believe that this story deserves national media attention so we can see justice served & feel more at peace.

Dana2090, you have watched too much CSI. People get divorced all the time and no one gets murdered. And, lots of them live together until the divorce is final for many different reasons.

None of us knows for sure who killed her. We can have all of the theories we want, but we don't have the evidence in our hands like DPD does. I'm sure her family is reading the articles posted. How about everyone leave their theory to themselves & only post support for the family & friends? They have enough to deal with.

-- Posted by hotpocket1971 on Thu, Dec 15, 2011, at 5:09 PM

we really dont know what evidence they have but from what we are told, i'd say her husband had nothing to do with this. its hard to imagine someone killing someone in their own home and not leaving a substantial amount of evidence. except maybe in the case of strangulation. but then its hard to imagine strangling someone without them getting a fingernail in your skin or you losing a fist full of hair. if one were to load the body of someone they'd just killed and haul it away, i dont think they'd dump it that close to their own home. very few women just up and decide to divorce their husband to be alone. in most cases, there is another guy in the picture. my guess is that she slipped out of the house to willingly meet someone and things got out of hand. either some fellow couldnt take no for an answer or was a sure enough wacko with murder on his mind from the start. probably took her life in a vehicle right there beside where she was found, dumped her body, then drove her car back toward her home as close as he dared without alerting her husband. flattened a tire to buy some time and left town.

-- Posted by makin sense on Thu, Dec 15, 2011, at 7:09 PM

Vixenvol - but law enforcement didn't find her body. Two regular citizens happened upon her body...if not for them, Karen might still be missing. I am just of the opinion that law enforcement isn't doing a very good job in this case. Or, if they are, then let's hope this comes to a resolution soon, one way or the other. I do agree with Caring, that one good sign is that her husband is cooperating. The point is, however, that somebody killed her. Who??? I fear that law enforcement won't solve this case.

-- Posted by Darby on Thu, Dec 15, 2011, at 7:24 PM

Karen came up missing early Sunday morning oct. 30, and it was 2:37 pm Sunday afternoon when a friend of Karens called police to report her missing and the Dispatcher told them that her husband needed to call the police dept. to give them some details. I think most husbands would have called that morning instead of waiting until 3:00 pm in Sunday afternoon to report his wife missing. Especially when her vehicle is within 200 yards of her home. The quicker the police knows the sooner the investigation gets started.

-- Posted by string31 on Thu, Dec 15, 2011, at 9:01 PM

I don't watch tv much. I do live this life. With a husband that looks like a nice guy to others, yet I have lived with his emotional abuse/control and money. hardly anyone sees this. But my friends to believe my stories. My guy can act sweet and nice. Appearance is important to them. A juvenile look. Even though he is late 40's. I have read and followed many stories like this. I follow all the way to the end-to conviction. nancy - brad cooper in N.C. He strangled her at night and changed her clothes into running clothes to make it look like she went running the next morning. Her friend called the police too. He didn't.


Appearance/money/taking away the kids/ and they don't want to lose us-their seeing eye dogs. Their life coaches. especially if we are seeing someone else. They feel BETRAYED. Vs. they love us and don't want to lose us.

No empathy gets you this. Their mentality.

That is why we cannot live with them. I moved out of my home. safe.

-- Posted by dana2090 on Fri, Dec 16, 2011, at 3:22 PM

Who is going to get out of bed? After just getting into the bed at or around 1:45 a.m. Unless they were made to get out of bed...after her daughter went to sleep. Her husband is the guilty one...which is so sad for the children.

-- Posted by bluesable on Fri, Dec 16, 2011, at 8:03 PM

who would get out of bed at 1:45 a.m.? thats easy...a woman who has filed for divorce and has been out partying till after midnight while her husband was at home....i understand that her partying was cut short (or put on hold for an hour or so) because her daughter had started feeling sickly and she had to go pick her up and take her home. i just cant imagine anyone dumping a body that close to an often used road when the river was just a few hundred yards away, if they were trying to get rid of it. i'd say they freaked out after killing her, jerked her out the car and cut a trail.

-- Posted by makin sense on Fri, Dec 16, 2011, at 11:48 PM

It's really horrible 2 accuse someone 4 murder when u really don't know... Let the pros figure it out.

-- Posted by DMASE on Sat, Dec 17, 2011, at 12:17 PM

Oh yeah she left her sick little girl to go take a drive. And along comes a serial killer at 3am in the morning. The profiler on Nancy Grace said that was very unlikely. The person that did this probably knew the river would be the first place the police would look for her body. So they took the body to a place not far away so they could get back home before they were missed. Bottom line (Karen would never have left her sick little girl that night).

-- Posted by string31 on Sat, Dec 17, 2011, at 1:14 PM

she wasn't in bed at 1:45...she was returning from a party.... anyway, the whole situation is sad... It's over now and its time for the family to begin their healing process...

-- Posted by DMASE on Sun, Dec 18, 2011, at 12:22 PM

No its not over until they get the murderer.

-- Posted by string31 on Sun, Dec 18, 2011, at 7:59 PM

i never suggested that a serial killer just came along....in fact, just the opposite. it's my guess that she met someone willingly. may have very well been a serial killer with murder on his mind, but he hid his intentions for awhile. i'd be willing to bet that she'd been seeing or talking to a man other than her husband in the weeks leading to her death.....thus the divorce proceedings.....find her boyfriend-you probably find the killer.

-- Posted by makin sense on Sun, Dec 18, 2011, at 8:42 PM

I think makin sense is related to the husband...

-- Posted by Hilda Curtis on Sun, Dec 18, 2011, at 10:54 PM

Hilda your right again. Her tire was slit before she left her driveway. You could tell that by the film footage when they showed the car sitting off the road. The tire was broken from the rim and mud on the side off it. That rules out meeting anyone. After she seen she couldnt go any further with a flat tire she turned onto Millsfield rd, then pulled her car off the side of the road and by time she got out of her car and took off running it was too late. I feel like she may have been run over by his vehicle as she tried to get away. And her body taken to cemetary. She wouldnt have left her house unless she was scared. Just a theory. I feel there will be an arrest soon.

-- Posted by string31 on Mon, Dec 19, 2011, at 11:46 AM

seems like i remember reading that they had seperated once before...if she was so terrified of him, once she got away from him, why would she return? and having a flat tire does not keep anyone from meeting another. a phone call will take care of that. all she'd had to do was call her boyfriend and say hey, got a flat. come get me. someone smart enough to kill someone without leaving a trace of evidence would never pull down a dirt road to dump a body, and sure enough wouldn't that close to his own home....the mere fact that the husband was at home while she was out partying speaks volumes about what kind of people the two were...

-- Posted by makin sense on Mon, Dec 19, 2011, at 10:24 PM

When someone says they want their own idenity it means they already have some one else.If my wife told me that I might kill her too. Adultry, to me, is a crime punishable by death administered by the victim

-- Posted by Larrythe otherguy on Sun, Dec 25, 2011, at 3:00 AM

Larry are serious ? My goodness , I hope you take your marriage and the laws there of as serious as you insist your wife does...

-- Posted by LadyKim on Tue, Dec 27, 2011, at 2:56 PM

Just curious... if the husband was just chillin at home, and Karen was at a Halloween party.. why didn't the husband (father?) pick up the sick kid? Seems like she was made to leave the party to pick up her kid when the husband could have done it. Why is that? Why didn't he just go get the sick kid and leave Karen where she was?

I also know a woman who stayed with her abusive husband, simply because without her there, it was worse for her kids. So she didn't leave until the day the last one left home. Maybe that's why Karen went back to him?

And if she did call someone because of the flat.. I'm sure her phone records will show that, regardless if her phone is found or not (or if they already have it). I'm sure the phone records will be subpoenaed. And if someone ran over her, there would be some type of evidence on the vehicle that did it.

It would really suck for her if she snuck out while her husband was sleeping because she was scared of him, to be murdered by some stranger in the night too. That would be about the unluckiest of luck there. Pretty far-fetched. But could happen. I think the cause of death is pretty crucial here... guess that is why they are taking so long with the autopsy.

I will also mention that my best friend was murdered last June. Her tire was also slit, in her own driveway. Everyone thought her husband was involved, including me. He is a pond scum sucking piece of crap. But the murderer turned out to be a neighbor from two houses down. A recently released felon from prison. The case hasn't gone to trial yet, but the evidence against the man in custody nails it to about 99.5% certainty they have the right man. As much as I want her husband to pay for her murder, he walks. The man that actually did the killing will be the one going down for it.

I know from experience they have a lot more evidence than any of us know. They will keep the evidence private until the trial. The evidence they have against my friend's murderer has never been published, still to this day, even after over 18 months since her murder. There is all kinds of speculation still to this day, that her husband is the one that did it. But he wasn't. He just made sure it happened, and for that, he wont pay. But God will get him.

-- Posted by Crabby on Wed, Dec 28, 2011, at 5:26 PM

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Karen Swift search, Nov. 19, 2011