On anniversary of elderly woman’s death, Arlington police renew call for tips

06/04/2014 5:27 PM

06/04/2014 10:49 PM

Not long before Leona Swafford was killed, her daughter and a neighbor struggled with the man who was driving away in her 2010 Lincoln MKZ with the 83-year-old woman inside.

They told police they saw Swafford kicking her assailant as he tried to gain control of her vehicle.

The man threatened Swafford’s daughter, Jeanne Keenan, with his gun, pulled himself from the grasp of Swafford’s neighbor, and then sped away.

That was about 8:30 a.m. June 4, 2013.

About 90 minutes later, construction workers found Swafford’s body beside a vacant house in the 1900 block of Kimberly Drive, about three miles southwest of her home in the 400 block of Sussex Drive. Swafford’s Lincoln was in an apartment complex parking lot in the 2000 block of Elm Point Drive.

In the year since, Arlington police have combed through more than 200 tips, Detective Ben Lopez, the lead investigator, said. But no one has been arrested.

“I wouldn’t call it a cold case because we are still getting leads and tips that we are following up on,” Lopez said. “We could get the right tip today and end up making an arrest today. As time goes on these cases usually get more difficult to solve, but we will never give up on a case. Ever.”

Oak Farms Dairy has renewed a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and grand jury indictment of a suspect. The Crime Stoppers reward of $1,000 remains in place, Lopez said.

On Wednesday, the anniversary of Swafford’s death, relatives and police officials gathered at Marrow Bone Springs Park, 600 W. Arkansas Lane, to plant a red oak tree in Swafford’s memory in the hope that the publicity would jog a memory or unearth a clue.

“Someone knows where he is and who he is,” said Larry Carson, Swafford’s youngest son. “Speak up.”

Officers and volunteers will return to Swafford’s neighborhood on Saturday and distribute fliers, hoping that someone will offer a detail that will help break the case.

Roy Mitchell, Swafford’s son-in-law and a part-time Arlington police patrol officer, said he spoke with Swafford just 15 minutes before she was taken. Before he married Swafford’s daughter and just before he was deployed overseas in the military, Mitchell said he had no money to buy a wedding ring. Swafford bought one, which his wife still wears today, Mitchell said.

“No one lives [in Swafford’s house] now, but I still catch myself driving to the house to visit Mom,” Mitchell said. “I’m on patrol every day, and I look at people and wonder if one of them might be him.”

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