District attorney reviewing investigative case file in 2011 death of Dyersburg mother Karen Swift

Updated: Oct. 9, 2019 at 5:04 PM CDT
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DYERSBURG, Tenn. (WMC) - For the first time, the district attorney in Dyer County is reviewing the full case file from the investigation into the death of Karen Swift.

The 44-year-old mother of four was found dead in 2011. Nobody has faced any charges in connection with her death, which the medial examiner ruled a homicide.

Dyer County Sheriff Jeff Box told WMC Action News 5 Wednesday that his office has submitted everything they have to the district attorney’s office for review. Box said he contacted Swift’s mother Tuesday to inform her once again that the case would be discussed publicly.

“This is the first time the actual case file has been given to this office,” said Danny Goodman Jr., district attorney general for the 29th Judicial District.

Goodman was appointed and then elected to the DA’s office in the 29th Judicial District in 2018. He said the Dyer County Sheriff’s Office has continually contacted the office about the Swift case, but the full file was never formally turned over until now.

“The file is very expansive. It actually starts from the birth of Karen Swift and goes from the date of her death, and even information after that,” he told WMC Action News 5 Wednesday. “It is a very large file, lots of volumes. It’s going to take me a while to get through everything we have.”

It was Halloween 2011 when Swift went missing after a party in Dyersburg. Investigators found her car near her home with a shredded tire, but Karen and her purse were gone.

Weeks later they discover her body in an abandoned cemetery. An autopsy report provided to WMC Action News 5 by West Tennessee journalist Burt Staggs notes Swift died from a “blunt force injury of the head.” In the report, the medical examiner called her death a homicide.

Swift had just filed for divorce from her husband David when she was found dead.

In the years after her death he’d been the focus of Dyer County investigators. Sources close to the investigation said Wednesday that was because of inconsistent statements he’d given to authorities.

“I feel like they’ve always had tunnel vision on David Swift and rejected leads on any sort of information that did not lead to him,” said Heather Cohen, a Nashville private investigator.

Cohen started looking into the Swift case last year. She said she believes Dyer County investigators may have missed leads.

“A lot of our information led us in a different direction, and we’ve stayed focused on that direction pretty much the whole year,” she said.

Sheriff Box told WMC Action News 5 Wednesday his office has never stopped working on the case and stood by their investigation.

District Attorney Goodman said he could not talk specifics regarding what was contained in the Swift file or who authorities outlined as a suspect.

But he said he would not present the case to a grand jury to obtain an indictment unless he believed there was enough evidence for a conviction at trial.

“I will review this case and probably have an assistant review it as well to make sure I get a second set of eyes on it, as well as another opinion,” said Goodman. “We know this happened several years ago, but there’s lots of interest from the community. We want to do everything we can to give it a good look.”

Goodman also said he welcomes information from anyone as his office probes the case.

“If we receive information from anyone, we are going to follow up. We don’t want to leave any stone unturned,” he said.

Goodman said there is no timeline for how long his review of the case file could take, and, as indicated, his review does not guarantee any charges will be filed.

David Swift is still represented by Mid-South attorney Steve Farese.

“Based upon my experience, that’s what District Attorneys do,” Farese said to WMC Action News 5 Wednesday when we inquired for comment on the casefile review.

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