Karen Swift, amother of four went missing after a Halloween party in 2011. Her body was found more than a month later near a cemetery three miles from her home in Dyersburg, Tennessee.
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.
Karen was born Jan. 25, 1967 in Galesburg, Illinois, making her 44 years old when she was killed in October 2011.
She had been married to her husband David Swift since 1989. Together they had two sons and two daughters. According to news reports, the Swifts had a tumultuous relationship and Karen had filed for divorce on Oct. 10, 2011.
She was survived by her parents, one brother and one sister, one nephew, two nieces, four great nephews and numerous relatives, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.
According to her obituary, Karen was an honored athlete in track. She continued her love of running by participating in 5Ks and working as a personal trainer at the YMCA.
The last time Karen Swift was seen alive by her friends was Oct. 29, 2011, at a Halloween party at The Farms Clubhouse.
Karen left the party between 1:30 and 1:45 p.m. to pick up her car from a friend’s house and then pick up one of her daughters, who was not feeling well, from another Halloween party.
Afterward, she returned to the home she shared with her soon-to-be ex-husband David Swift. He was the last person to see her alive.
He told police that Karen tucked their daughter into bed and then laid down with her. She must have left the house for an unknown reason, David Swift said.
One of her friends spotted her car on the side of the road less than a quarter mile from the house and called the Dyer County Sheriff’s Office to report it.
The car had a flat tire. Karen and her purse were gone. One report said the costume she wore to the party was still in the car.
Volunteers, along with personnel from the Sheriff’s Department, Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Dyer County Rescue Squad, members of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department, and a THP helicopter, searched the countryside in hopes of finding of Karen alive. Those hopes were dashed six weeks after the Halloween party, when Karen’s remains were found by a group of hunters about three miles from her home in a cemetery just off of Harness Road and Burnt Mill Road in Dyersburg, Tennessee.
Her remains, which were concealed by undergrowth, were identified by dental records.
Shortly afterward a judge sealed the case, including her autopsy and cause of death.
But in 2018 Burton Staggs, a journalist at the Tennessee River Valley News in Wayne County filed an Open Records request for the autopsy. The Tennessee State Medical Examiner’s Office sent him a copy.
According to the autopsy, she died from blunt force trauma to the head. Karen was partially clothed
She was too decomposed to determine if she had been sexually assaulted, but she had multiple broken bones.
Her death was ruled a homicide.
It took eight years for the Dyer County Sheriff’s Office to turn its evidence file over to the district attorney’s office.
The sheriff office claim they have never stopped working the case.
The investigation into her disappearance started after the car was found with a shredded tire just a quarter mile from her home.
The investigators had several persons of interest at the beginning and some have been ruled out.
Sheriff’s detectives collected much evidence over the years and sent some of it to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab in Nashville. The U.S. Secret Service was also brought in to help with the case.
Most of the evidence can’t be released because it’s an open investigation, but one thing they are willing to release is that detectives examined the GPS tracker on Karen’s phone to determine exactly where she went after the Halloween party.
Detectives also searched the home Karen shared with her family not once but at least three times over the years.
The 17-page autopsy revealed that Karen died from a hit to the front of her head, likely with a hammer. There were no defensive wounds.
The autopsy also said Karen was only clad in a pair of black underwear that were pulled down her thighs. It couldn’t be determined if she had been sexually assaulted because her remains, which were found in an unusual position, were partially skeletonized.
Her toxicology report was clean with no signs of alcohol or drugs in her system. Also evidence was recovered from her hands.
Karen also reportedly got into an argument with a married woman at the Halloween party. A week and a half later the country club’s security cameras were stolen. Karen had been in at least two altercations with other women.
Any person with information about this case is asked to contact the Dyer County Sheriff’s Office at 731-285-2802 or call the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.