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More than a decade later, arrest made in murder of Tennessee woman Karen Swift

Dyer County Sheriff Jeff Box stated “all the evidence pointed to him,” after announcing the indictment of Karen’s husband, David Swift.

More than a decade later, an arrest has been made in the Karen Swift cold case.

Wife and mother of four Karen Johnson Swift disappeared after a Halloween party in Dyersburg, Tennessee on October 29, 2011. About six weeks later, her body was found two miles away from her home in a cemetery.

Karen’s case was featured in Dateline’s Cold Case spotlight digital series in 2015, more than three years after she was murdered. At the time, her husband, David Swift, was considered a person of interest. Karen had filed for divorce three weeks before she disappeared.

In the past ten years, investigators continued to work diligently on Karen’s case.

On August 9, 2022, the Dyer County Sheriff’s Office released a statement on Facebook, announcing that David Swift had been “indicted, charged with pre-meditated first-degree murder.”

David Swift arrest
David Swift arrestDyer County Sheriff's Office

Swift, who has since remarried, was living in Alabama when he was arrested on Monday afternoon “by members of the DCSO with assistance from members of the Jefferson County Alabama Sheriff’s Office.”

Dyer County Sheriff Jeff Box stated in Tuesday's post, “Today is a good day for law enforcement and I’m very pleased the grand jury returned an indictment against (David) Swift.”Sheriff Box continued to say, “We have literally spent thousands of hours on this case and a lot of that time was spent dispelling false information and rumors. Our investigators never gave up and just kept going through the evidence and I want to sincerely thank them for their diligence in this case.”

In October of 2019, the Dyer County Sheriff’s Office concluded their investigation and turned evidence over to District Attorney General Danny Goodman’s office. The district attorney’s office reviewed the information and presented it to the grand jury on Monday.

The Sheriff explained that even in the early stages of the investigation, “David was always a suspect because all the evidence pointed to him.” He states that investigators “were able to rule anyone and everyone else out involving this tragic murder and the grand jury made the right decision today by indicting him on a pre-meditated first-degree murder charge.”

David Swift arrest
David Swift arrestDyer County Sheriff's Office

Karen’s mother, Carol Johnson, told NBC affiliate WMCA in October 2014 that “it still hurts every day 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.” Carol also stated, “I think 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.”

Sheriff Box stated in the Facebook post that he remained in touch with Carol throughout the years and made “a promise more than a decade ago that one day the person that committed the murder would be brought to justice.”

So, almost 11 years after Karen was murdered, Sheriff Box made a call. “As soon as (David) Swift was placed in handcuffs I called Carol and told her the news. I always told her I had faith this case would be prosecuted and today we had a very emotional conversation,” said Box. “She just wants justice for her daughter.”

Swift remains in custody at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office without bond until an extradition hearing takes place. If convicted, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.