Reporting Bud Gillett
ARLINGTON (CBS 11 NEWS) – A local FBI Task Force has joined Arlington Police in the search for the man who murdered 83-year-old Leona Swafford Tuesday. Swafford was carjacked in her own driveway, then died as the suspect kidnapped her.
Task force members worked an area near Vandergriff Park late Wednesday afternoon, just a few blocks south and east of the carjacking. Police, and now the victim’s family, are asking for the public’s help to find a killer.
“This could’ve happened anywhere to anybody,” said Richard Carter, who is married to the victim’s niece. He joined three of Swaffords’s grandsons to urge the public to provide tips to track down her murderer. “And we want to bring the person responsible–person or persons–to justice.”
Steven Harben, a grandson added, “She stayed here in this community because this was her community, and I know that there’s someone out there—or some people out there—that know who this person is. And know where to find him.”
Police continued to protect family members, who have gathered at the home where Swafford was carjacked and kidnapped yesterday. Police later found her lifeless body callously dumped a few miles away, then her car abandoned nearby.
Wednesday afternoon members of an FBI Task Force joined Arlington Police in canvassing a neighborhood near the home. There and at crime scenes tied to the murder, authorities handed out flyers with a composite sketch of the suspect.
The digital age is now assisting shoe leather investigations. Police have posted YouTube videos directing viewers with information to hotlines and Crime Stoppers Rewards. FaceBook has shared hundreds of other requests for help, as have Twitter pleas. Portable signs at the crime scenes also urge members of the public to call with tips. Police said the suspect sketch was also being added to digital billboards along highways Wednesday night. Police say they would use these outreach programs in any crime so vicious and senseless, especially for a helpless, elderly woman whose grandson, Ben Harben, called her a guiding light.
“When you go home and you see your mother or your grandmother, you give her a hug. Because it could happen to somebody as close to me as this, it’s not just a statistic. It can happen to anybody,” said Harben.
Police say the sketch is just one tool; they say anyone not showing up for work or suddenly leaving town could be their man, so they urge anyone with possible leads to contact them. They’re asking anyone who lives near any of the 3 crime scene areas with personally-owned surveillance cameras that might have captured video on Tuesday, June 4th from early morning to mid-afternoon, to contact them. The areas are Kimberly Drive, Sussex Drive and Place on the Park Apartments. These areas are near Pioneer Parkway and New York Avenue area and also the Center Street corridor between Pioneer and Arkansas and Mayfield.
There’s also a Crime Stoppers reward as well as a $10,000 reward from Oak Farms Dairy for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the man responsible.
Anyone with information about the suspect or the stolen vehicle is asked to call 911 or Arlington police at 817-575-8529 or Tarrant County Crime Stoppers 817-469-TIPS.
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