New 'person of concern' in murder of ABC7's Anne Swaney

ABC7 I-Team Investigation

ByBy: Chuck Goudie and Barb Markoff in Belize; Christine Tressel and Ross Weidner in Chicago WLS logo
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
New 'person of concern' in murder of Anne Swaney
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Sources familiar with the investigation told the I-Team they have identified such a "person of concern" in the murder of Anne Swaney.

SAN IGNACIO, Belize (WLS) -- The ABC7 I-Team has uncovered new details about the search for our colleague's killer, including a potential lead in the investigation, after Anne Swaney was found dead in Belize last week.

Law enforcement in Belize has a term called "person of concern" that is similar to a "person of interest" in Chicago. Sources familiar with the investigation told the I-Team they have identified such a "person of concern" in the murder of Anne Swaney: A resort employee who may have withheld information during his first interview.

PHOTOS: Anne Swaney, 1976-2016

It was a love of horses that first brought Anne to Belize - for the first time with a friend, and last week on a return visit by herself.

WATCH: Friend of ABC7 producer Anne Swaney recalls their first trip to Belize

On Thursday morning, she went alone down a half-mile path from the resort, a walk that resort owner Santiago Juan took us on to where Anne was last known to be - on a wooden platform overlooking the Mopan River. Anne had come there to do morning yoga when she is believed to have been ambushed.

"This is a big area. This is 400 acres and nothing is that difficult. It's along the river. So, if somebody would like, they can come down the river," Juan said.

According to the police record obtained Tuesday night by the I-Team, the attack was more vicious than first reported. Authorities found "gashes on both sides of the forehead about one inch deep."

The report also cites "bruise marks on the neck, back and hands" that could indicate she tried to fight off her attacker.

On the platform are police markings showing where her backpack and shoes were found, along with her yoga mat.

Unexplained in the police report is a reference to tour guides and farm workers saying they saw her cell phone on the deck earlier in the day.

Authorities told the I-Team that police divers searched the river on Monday and never recovered her cellphone - evidence considered potentially important.

The resort owner - who first reported Anne missing - was questioned Tuesday by an FBI agent and an officer from the U.S. Embassy in Belize. Also Tuesday, at the local office of the Belizean National Police, authorities brought in and re-questioned farmhands and launched a small task force to investigate the case.

WATCH: FBI joins Anne Swaney murder investigation

"I feel for her parents and her brother. Any loss of life in any circumstance is bad, violent or otherwise. I would love to see closure," Juan said.

The Guatemalan national who was fishing near the crime scene and arrested on immigration charges is now being discounted as a potential suspect, while authorities are said to be focused on that new "person of concern."

READ: Anne Swaney's obituary

WATCH: Remembering Anne Swaney