Murder of ABC7 producer Anne Swaney in Belize still unsolved after 2 years

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Anne Swaney was found strangled Jan. 15, 2016 in the Mopan River in Belize. (WLS)

ABC7 I-TEAM INVESTIGATION
It was two years ago that Anne Swaney's body was found in a river in Central America where she had been on vacation.

There are still no suspects, no known motive and no justice in the murder of our executive digital producer. Only the calendar has changed since this day two years ago when Anne was found dead, a day after she went missing from the equestrian resort in Belize where she had been on a horse-riding vacation.


A year ago in Belize, FBI agent Paul Clark told the I-Team that authorities "believe that people, the public in Belize, may have information about the suspect or suspects that committed this crime." That is still the FBI's position. Now it is backed up by a $20,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of her killer.

Anne was taking time off from her job at ABC7 in western Belize; it was a place the 39-year old news producer had been before and loved to visit.

Resort employees said they saw her walk down to the Mopan River. Her possessions found on the yoga deck where she had come to relax in the warm weather. It was the last time Anne would be seen alive.

She was found strangled, floating in the river two years ago to the day.
Stable hands and other resort workers were questioned repeatedly and provided DNA. And while the FBI sent two agents to assist, it was-and is-the Belizean national police running the case.



A Guatemalan national fishing near where her body was found and was questioned but released, police saying he hadn't been involved.

When the I-Team returned to Central America one year into the investigation, Belize police told us they were still working hard.

"We want to reassure the family, as well, that we are doing everything in our power to bring closure to this case" said police spokesman Raphael Martinez. "I'm hopeful that we will solve it, it's very important to this country."
Now, two years out, the U.S. may not be as hopeful.

A U.S. State Department travel advisory issued last Wednesday urges American visitors to exercise increased caution because "violent crime, such as sexual assault, armed robbery, and murder, is common," and they say "local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents.

The nation of Belize has a small population and an inordinate number of domestic and drug-driven murders every year; consistently putting it in the world's top ten deadliest countries. The murder rate in 2016 was the second highest ever recorded with 138 killings. 2017 was even worse with 142 killings, in a nation of only 366,000 residents. Most go unsolved.

Tourists are usually not targeted; although there have been several high-profile homicides there in the past few years...including Anne Swaney.

Related Topics:
homicide investigationtouristu.s. & worldI-Team
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