Investigators point finger at Karen Swift's husband; victim's mother speaks out

Investigators point finger at Karen Swift's husband; victim's mother speaks out
Carol Johnson speaks out about her daughter's murder. (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Carol Johnson speaks out about her daughter's murder. (Source: WMC Action News 5)

She was trapped in a marriage she wanted out of, but weeks after filing for divorce, she disappeared. The 44-year-old mother of four was found dead six weeks later.

For the first time, investigators are pointing their fingers at her husband as the prime suspect in the case.

Karen's mother, Carol Johnson has never spoken publicly about her daughter's murder -- until now. Nearly three years has passed since Karen's husband reported her missing.

"She just wasn't happy and I don't think he was happy either, but she wasn't happy," Johnson said about her daughter and son-in-law. "He said, 'I don't know where Karen is.' I said, 'What do you mean you don't know where Karen is?'"

It was Halloween 2011 when investigators found Karen's car a quarter of a mile from her home. Her tire was shredded and her purse was missing. Her Halloween costume was there, but Karen was nowhere to be found.

Investigators immediately searched the couple's home and questioned David Swift, whom Karen had filed divorce papers against just three weeks prior.

"Since that time he has never picked up the phone and called and asked about the investigation at all," Johnson said. "To me, if it was my wife that had been murdered, I'd be burning the phone up every day for answers."

During their first interview with David, investigators say he told them Karen left early from a Halloween party, picked up their daughter at a sleep over, then went to bed in their daughter's room. She was still living with David.

In the weeks following her disappearance, her son Preston begged for help.

"If my mother is out there, we are very worried, very concerned," he said. "If anyone has any information about her, please, please let us know. We just want to know ... we want to know she's OK. I love you, mom."

Six weeks passed before Karen's body was discovered under withering kudzu in an abandoned cemetery in Dyer County, Tennessee.

Investigators have yet to reveal how she died. They searched the Swift residence again in 2013 and say they collected more evidence. The findings were presented to Dyer County District Attorney Phil Bivens, who says there is not enough evidence to make an arrest.

High profile attorney Steve Farese represents David Swift. He says the only reason his client is a suspect is because he was married to the victim.

"It has really tormented him, tormented his children, and he really hasn't been able to grieve properly," Farese said.

David Swift told a reporter with the Jonesboro Sun, "I love my wife. I love my family. I've been in full cooperation with police."

But Dyer County detectives say David has been less than cooperative.

"Certainly we would like to have an interview with him and I surely wouldn't think it would take three years to get one," said Investigator Terry McCreight, Dyer County Sheriff's Office.

When WMC Action News 5's Janice Broach asked McCreight what he would ask David Swift if given the chance to talk with him, he replied, "Did you kill your wife?"

It's a question Karen Swift's mother wants answered, too.

"I think if I could know for sure, if I could know who to be angry at, I think I could start to heal, but as it is, it's just an open wound every day," said Johnson. "It still hurts everyday to know that somebody took my baby, killed her, took her down to the kudzu and threw her out like a rag doll. Just breaks my heart."

Farese says people harassed David Swift, so he moved to the Blytheville area with the couple's daughters.

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