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#510727 - 01/16/16 05:31 AM American news producer murdered in Cayo  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,610
Marty Offline
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Female Tourist Killed On The Mopan

Tonight, Benque Viejo police are questioning one man after a 39 year old American Tourist, Anne Swaney was brutally murdered. Swaney was visiting Belize from Chicago and was last seen yesterday on the riverside near the Nabitunich Resort where she had been staying. That's a few miles outside of Benque Viejo Town, and this morning her body was found in the Mopan River. Daniel Ortiz just returned from the west, and he has the full story:..

Daniel Ortiz reporting
Nabitunich Resort, it's a few miles outside out of Benque Viejo Town, and like most of the top get-away type destinations in the Cayo District, it's remote, and perfect for the outdoor experience.

This resort is said to be excellent for horse-back riding, and the dream location for hiking with the beautiful Macal River to trail along. But, the dream became a nightmare for the owners of the resort this morning when one of its guests was found dead in that river. She's 39 year-old American Ann Elizabeth Swaney, an executive producer from ABC 7 in Chicago, Illinois.

It's an unimaginable end to her vacation in Belize, and what's more is that police believed that she was sexually violated, killed and then dumped in the River.

The Commander of Benque Police told us how the case was first brought to their attention:

ASP Daniel Arzu -OC, Benque Viejo Police
"Yesterday sometime around 5pm in the evening, Mr. Santiago Juan, a proprietor of Nabitunich Resort visited the station and reported that one of his guests went missing since morning of the same day sometime around 8am in the morning. We engaged an investigation. We also employ the services of the Canine Unit and conducted a search within the area. At the area we observed personal effects like clothing, boots and a knapsack is said to have been the property of a US National who is a guest of Mr. Juan, by the name of Anne Elizabeth McNab Swaney. She was nowhere around. We conducted a search, it went into the night, but because of the dark of the night we had to suspend our search and this morning again, we convened our search and sometime around 8:15 thereabout we encountered the body of Anne along the Mopan River. She was floating face down and we retrieve the body from the area and we observed that there were physical injuries to the body. In particular the head region. On her neck there were bruises and either side of her head has a laceration and that led us to believe that it was a case of murder. We want to believe that she may have been violated sexually, given the fact that she was partially nude."

Police say that they found a Guatemalan man in the area, who had entered Belize illegally. As of right now, he's suspect number 1, and he will be interrogated.

ASP Daniel Arzu -OC, Benque Viejo Police
"In the area we also found a Guatemalan national. His account was that he came into the country illegally and was on a fishing expedition. So we currently have him in custody and we will be pursuing an interview and investigation to for him to give account for himself and as well we will be relying on the results of the post mortem examination and the forensic evidence collected from the area."

This evening, we encountered the owners of Nabitunich Resort, and they had no comment. As a matter of fact, they asserted that their murdered guest was not found on their property. Police don't exactly agree with that.

ASP Daniel Arzu -OC, Benque Viejo Police
"This is relatively a remote location on the property of Nabitunich Resort, but we are hopeful that we will get somewhere with this investigation. That is basically where we are."

And tonight we can tell you more about Anne Swaney was with the help of ABC7 in Chicago. That's where she had been working for the past 16 years as an online producer and they put together this story:…

We note that the story of the shocking murder is making all kinds of international headlines tonight - and we'll keep following up on it.

Channel 7

Police are investigating the apparent murder of an American news producer in the Cayo district on Friday.

San Ignacio police recovered the partially nude body of 39 year-old Anne Swaney from the Mopan River around 8:00 on Friday morning, with what appeared to be blunt force trauma wounds to the head, and marks on her neck. Her belongings were recovered on a deck not far from where her body was found.

Swaney, was staying at the Nabitunich Farm Resort between miles 71 and 72 on the George Price Highway, and was reported missing by the resort’s owner on Thursday night. Reports are that she was to go horseback riding, but stayed behind because they were one horse short. She instead opted to do yoga by the river and that was the last time she was seen alive.

When she had not returned after nine hours, the resort owner, 40 year-old Santiago Juan, called the police.

Police gathered a search party but later called it off due to lighting constraints. They have questioned a Guatemalan fisherman found near the scene; however they did not detain him as a suspect.

Swaney was an executive producer for the media house, ABC7, based in Chicago, Illinois USA, and was responsible for the company’s website.

The Reporter

#510778 - 01/18/16 05:12 AM Re: American news producer murdered in Cayo [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,610
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

One Man In Custody For ABC Chicago Producer's Death; Police Still In Search For Killer After Autopsy Revealed
An executive producer of ABC Chicago was killed while vacationing in Belize. Authorities are still looking for the murder despite having one man in custody, who has not been cooperative. The autopsy has also been released as per the producer's cause of death.

A Guatamelan fisherman was in custody on Friday. He reportedly entered the country illegally. As per reports of NBC, he was in the area to fish but the only thing that police found on him was a knife. There have been no charges against the unidentified man, who police say has been uncooperative in the investigation.

Rafael Martinez, a spokesman for the Belize Ministry of National Security, said in a statement, "He is a person of interest. He is a person who the police believe can assist in the investigation."

American news producer strangled but not raped, police say

The Belize Police Department has confirmed that 39-year-old Anne Swaney, an American news producer found dead in the Cayo district on Thursday, was not sexually assaulted before she was strangled to death.

‘A post mortem examination was performed and revealed her cause of death to be asphyxia due to compression of the neck area, throttling and blunt force traumatic injuries to the head and neck. There were no signs of sexual assault as part of this examination,’ the police said in a press release.

The Department added that it is committed to bringing swift justice to whoever committed the murder.

Anne Swaney, an executive producer for the media house ABC-7 in Chicago USA, had only been on vacation in Belize for a few days when she was murdered. She was staying at the Farm Resort in Benque Viejo del Carmen, Cayo between miles 71 and 72 on the George Price Highway.

On Thursday, January 14, the resort owner reported to police that Swaney was missing, after she left the grounds to do yoga near the Mopan river in the morning and did not return some nine hours later.

Police search efforts were ineffective due to the dark of night, so they returned the next morning where they found her body floating in the river at around 8:15. News of her death spread quickly and the same day, the news station in the US aired a story on her murder.

The United States has, thus far, not issued any travel advisory against Belize to its citizens.

The Reporter

#510829 - 01/19/16 04:50 AM Re: American news producer murdered in Cayo [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,610
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

The Killing Of A Tourist: Police Have No Firm Answers Yet

But, while those 3 murders have made local headlines, the killing which continues to make international headlines is that of 39 year-old American Tourist Anne Swaney.

This news producer from ABC 7 in Chicago was vacationing in Belize, at the Nabitunich Resort just outside of Benque Viejo Town. She went missing last week Thursday morning and the next day, police found her body floating in the Mopan River.

She was last seen doing yoga on the riverside, and she was supposed to go horse-back riding with her fellow guests, but she never made it. Police found her body some 20+ hours later, and they were convinced that she had been killed.

Well, a post-mortem examination has confirmed that she was strangled to death, and had sustained blunt force trauma to the head and neck. Here's what the Commissioner of Police had to say about the case today:

Allen Whylie, Commissioner of Police
"The investigation is ongoing. Indeed we have a team of investigators working on that case. Indeed the post mortem was conducted by the doctor and his results was that manual strangulation she dies from and also she had some blunt trauma to the face. We have officers combing the area as we speak continuing and we are following up on all leads. I do know that we had one individual detained for general questioning - a Guatemalan national. That person has been charged for illegal entry at this point in time. I cannot say that he is suspect, but the process of investigation - he was found in the general area and so he has been detained and has been question."

Daniel Ortiz "Sir, I know that the investigators initially suspected that the victim was sexually assaulted. Has the post mortem revealed any information to confirm that?"

Allen Whylie, Commissioner of Police
"My recollection from the doctor is that he did not see any signs of that occurring. But nonetheless I know that swabs have been taken for further analysis."

We've since learned that police have gone back to the wooden deck you saw in our story, which is where they believed that she was attacked while she was exercising. They've returned looking for additional evidence, and we understand that other elements of law enforcement have been searching the river and surrounding areas for belongings which may have been lost when she was thrown into the river.

Channel 7

#510870 - 01/20/16 05:38 AM Re: American news producer murdered in Cayo [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,610
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline


The United States now has federal agents on the scene in Belize to assist in the murder investigation of our ABC7 colleague Anne Swaney, as Belizean authorities say they are stepping up their efforts to solve the case, the ABC7 I-Team reports.

On Tuesday afternoon, an FBI agent and a U.S. embassy officers interviewed the resort owner about when Anne, 39, was last seen alive - near the end of a vacation she had planned for months.

"Nobody goes out thinking something is going to happen. It's mind-boggling," said Santiago Juan, the resort owner.

Juan and his stable hands have all been questioned numerous times by local authorities. A man was among several ranch employees at the police station Tuesday for another round of questioning.

Even though the FBI is offering assistance, the investigation is based out of the Benque Viejo branch of the Belize National Police.

On Tuesday, authorities here said they formed a task force of about 10 officers from across the country to try to solve the case.

Also, a Guatemalan national - arrested near Anne's murder scene and held on immigration charges - has still not been cleared in her killing. But some sources familiar with the investigation say authorities are leaning in another direction.

The I-Team has been told detectives have identified what is known here as a "person of concern" in connection with the case, believed to be a ranch worker.

The resort owner said Tuesday that only one thing matters: finding whoever is responsible.

"I would like to send my deepest condolences to her family and all of her loved ones wherever they may be," Juan said.

Authorities are still waiting on lab tests and say they may ask the FBI for help with more sophisticated forensic work.

ABC7 Chicago

#511203 - 01/30/16 05:16 AM Re: American news producer murdered in Cayo [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,610
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

Anne Swaney Investigation Update

On Monday, we told you that one of police's main suspects, 24 year-old Guatemalan Victor Manuel Franco Menjivar was set free. He was one of the persons that Benque police were investigating for the murder of American tourist Anne Swaney.

He had been found in the same general area as Swaney's body, and he was supposed to be spending 6 months in prison after pleading guilty to illegal entry. Now, Magistrates usually order accused illegal immigrants to pay their fine forthwith, or else they will be jailed. What usually happens is that the Immigration Department allows these defendants a small amount of time to pay and if they can, then they are released.

Victor Menjivar did just that, and he was then taken to the Western Border and then released into Guatemala. Today, we asked the Acting Commander of the Western Police Region if that substantially hurt their ability to investigate this crime, and here's what he had to say:

Supt. Andrew Ramirez - OC, San Ignacio
"The investigation basically is a challenging investigation. UP to this present moment the investigation continues. As any other murder investigation we are trying our utmost best to try resolve this matter here. We do not really have any more that you guys already have as part of the investigation. But it is indeed a very challenging case due to its remoteness and isolation."

Mike Rudon, Ch5
"Now the release of the Guatemalan national. What that normal? What that what police would have wanted in this case?"

Supt. Andrew Ramirez - OC, San Ignacio
"In the initial detention of that individual, he was detained pending the investigation of that murder. But we must be guided that the police has a certain number of hours that we can hold somebody for investigation purposes which would be 48 hours. The person has exceeded his 48 hours and as a result he was handed over to Immigration for immigration offence. Regrettably that was the situation with that Guatemalan individual."

Anne Swaney, a journalist from ABC 7 in Chicago was vacationing in Belize at the Nabitunich Resort, just outside of Benque Viejo Town. She went missing on January 14, and was found dead in the Mopan River the next day. She had been strangled to death.

Channel 7

#520941 - 01/17/17 12:14 AM Re: American news producer murdered in Cayo [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,610
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline


A year after ABC7 executive producer Anne Swaney was murdered while on vacation in Belize, the case remains unsolved.

Swaney's family and friends have had a year of anguish because the 39-year-old was gone, but also because her murderer has not been caught.

Police in the Central American nation of Belize are in charge of the investigation, but there has been no apparent progress in the search for the killer.

Swaney was executive producer of online operations at ABC7, where she had worked since 1999 after graduating from Northwestern University.

"It's still not reality for me," said Ji Suk Yi, a friend and co-host of Windy City Live. "I still feel like Anne went away on vacation and I'm still waiting for her to come back."

An avid adventure traveler, Swaney went to Belize in mid-January 2016. The Missouri native loved to ride horses and was making a return visit to an eco-resort and ranch in the Cayo District of western Belize.

"She was really excited to go back. She had met people there previously, she loved horses. This was her type of equine adventure. And she was excited to go back to a place where she felt comfortable going by herself," said Sandi Moleski, a friend and sorority sister.

On Jan. 14, 2016, Swaney went missing. She had apparently been by the Mopan River, which runs next to the eco-resort property, after ranch workers said there weren't enough horses for everyone to ride that morning.

Swaney stayed behind.

Her yoga mat, shirt and backpack were found on a deck near the river where she was last known to be.

The next day, searchers found her partially clothed body a short distance down river.

She had been strangled.

Belize police officials said a year ago there were signs of sexual assault but forensic tests did not confirm that, according to sources familiar with the investigation. Her cellphone was missing, police said.

"If, in fact, the perpetrator took the phone with him, that would be the biggest piece of evidence. The next thing you'd look at is the physical evidence from the body. Because it's a manual strangulation it's a very physical crime. The odds are that DNA was left in her fingernails because I'm sure Ms. Swaney struggled," said Robert Milan, a former Cook County and federal prosecutor.

Milan, a cold case expert, said key questions are how well Belize police handled the crime scene, retained and processed evidence and identified potential witnesses.

"Guests at that hotel, people involved in the horseback riding, anybody else that was around that scene. You'd want to know the rap sheets and here's why: The odds are this individual attacked women before and has a rap sheet," Milan said.

A year ago, a Guatemalan national near the murder scene was arrested and for a time was a suspect in Swaney's death. However, he was quickly cleared.

Authorities questioned eco-resort employees, the property manager and his father, the owner, who was among the last to see her alive. Both told the I-Team in Belize that they had no knowledge of what happened to her.

A year later, no one has been charged in her murder and there appear to be no prime suspects.

Milan said that it's possible that someone randomly came upon Swaney while she was doing yoga in the remote location, but it is unlikely.

The not knowing has made the last year difficult for Swaney's loved ones.

"I want to know specifically why she didn't end up going on that horse ride, why were they a horse short...We feel like it had to have been someone, we believe, someone there that knew her," Suk Yi said.

"Being a year now, I think I've come to the terms of the fact that we'll probably never know," Moleski said.

Swaney's father died not knowing. His health took a bad turn after she was murdered and he died in February. Her younger brother told ABC7 he still isn't ready to talk about what happened.

The FBI is still involved in the case, but not the lead agency. Belize police are in charge.

ABC News Chicago

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