Missing Tennessee Mom Karen Swift's Body Found

Karen Swift, 44, disappeared Oct. 30 and police have ruled her death a homicide.

ByABC News
December 13, 2011, 9:46 AM

Dec. 13, 2011 — -- A missing person investigation became a murder investigation when authorities confirmed that a body discovered near a Tennessee highway was that of Karen Johnson Swift, the mother of four who disappeared on Oct. 30.

"She had been there some time," Dyer County Sheriff Jeff Box told ABC News' Western Tennessee affiliate WBBJ-TV. "The body had been concealed by vegetation."

Swift's body was in an area covered in vines and that there were no indications that she was killed in a different location, according to the sheriff. The place where the body was recovered is about three miles from where Swift's abandoned car, a white 2004 Nissan Murano, was found with a flat tire.

Box said items recovered from her car could be key to the investigation, but would not elaborate on what the items were.

Swift, 44, was last seen by her husband at her home in Dyersburg at approximately 1:30 a.m. and her care was only about a mile away from her home. Dyersburg is about 75 miles northeast of Memphis.

Box said the remains were found near a private cemetary by a passerby and that the death has been ruled a homicide.

"There were some apparent injuries to the body," Box told WBBJ. "We're going to wait to let the medical examiner's final report tell us the extent of those injuries."

The sheriff said it could be two weeks before a Memphis coroner releases the final autopsy report. Police are now focusing on finding Swift's killer.

"At this time we haven't named any suspects and you won't see us name suspects until we're sure it's going to be beneficial to the investigation," Box said.

The sheriff said that no one has been ruled out as a suspect yet.

Swift's father Gary Johnson, 67, told ABCNews.com when Swift disappeared that her four children—two boys and two girls—were devastated.

"She had never missed a day since they can remember that she wasn't there to wake them up at 6 a.m.," Johnson said.

Swift's two sons are in college and her daughters are 7 and 9 years old. Johnson said his youngest granddaughter "just cries" and "won't hardly eat."

Swift had been in the process of getting divorced and police say her husband has been cooperative with the investigation.

"No one wanted to see it end this way and all our prayers go out to her family," Box said.

Swift grew up in Arkansas and her close friend from high school Janet Ross told ABC News' Jonesboro affiliate KAIT-TV that she learned of her friend's death when Swift's mother called her Sunday night.

"As soon as I answered, she said, 'It's her,'" Ross said. "Her mother told me last night, she said, 'Okay, we found my daughter. Now I want to know who did this to my baby.'"

Ross said Swift never would have left her children voluntarily.

"I definitely don't think Karen wandered away from her vehicle three miles down the road and stumbled into some weeds and died," Ross told KAIT. "I want to know who it was and I want to prosecute."