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Police Continue Search For Killer 1 Year After Murder Of Grandmother

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ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – It has been exactly one year since a Fort Worth mother and grandmother was carjacked, kidnapped, beaten and killed. Despite having received hundreds of tips, the homicide of Leona Swafford remains unsolved. Now Arlington police and Oak Farms Dairy are doing what they can to generate interest in the case again and possibly gather new information and evidence.

Members of the Arlington Police Department not only organized a tree dedication to honor Swafford Wednesday, but also are now gathering volunteers to go back to Swafford’s neighborhood to re-interview residents and possibly generate new leads that result in the arrest of her killer.

During the tree planting ceremony at Marrow Bone Springs Park in Arlington Swafford’s son-in-law Roy Mitchell, said the oak tree being put in the ground would be a testament to Leona Swafford’s strength. “That’s the way she was through all of her life… she would help anybody, anytime.”

Carjacking murder victim Leona Swafford. (credit: Arlington Police Dept.)

Carjacking murder victim Leona Swafford. (credit: Arlington Police Dept.)

Leona Faye Swafford was just three days from celebrating her 84th birthday when she became a homicide victim. Events started early in the day on June 4, 2013. Swafford had just made a morning run to a donut shop when a man accosted her as she pulled back into her driveway.

A male neighbor who witnessed the incident said the unknown man attacked the 83-year-old woman as she sat inside her car. The neighbor ran to help and the two men struggled, but the suspect was able to get in the car, with Swafford still inside, and drive away.

Minutes after the carjacking and kidnapping police were contacted and began feverishly searching for Swafford and the suspect. Their efforts went on for more than an hour, but to no avail. Less than two hours after being taken by force, Swafford’s body was found between a strip shopping center and a residential area, in the 1900 block of Kimberly Drive.

Another hour or so later, police located Swafford’s silver-colored 2010 Lincoln MKZ in the parking lot of the Place on the Park Apartments, in the 200 block of East Pioneer. The suspect however was never found.

(credit: Arlington Police Department)

(credit: Arlington Police Department)

On the same night of Swafford’s murder police released a sketch of the suspect who was described as a dark-skin black man in his late 20s to late 30s, standing between 5’11” and 6’ tall with short hair possibly styled in a half-inch afro. At the time of the murder the suspect had a muscular build and little to no facial hair.

Mitchell isn’t just Swafford’s son-in-law; he’s also an Arlington police officer who Wednesday said he searches for the face in the sketch everyday. “To be honest with you, when I’m on patrol, everyday, I look at people and I think what did he really look like.”

On this one-year anniversary of the death of their loved one members of Swafford’s family made another plea. “To whomever did this to my mother or whomever knows something… speak up,” urged Swafford’s son tearfully, Larry Carson. “It could have been your mom, could have been your grandma, your great-grandma, your aunt.”

There was no getting around reflecting on the horrible events of June 4, 2013, but family members also took time to share their fondest memories of the matriarch of their family.

Steven Harben is Leona Swafford’s grandson. He said, “My grandmother was a person who came out for my 40th birthday and when I was there I said, ‘Hey Granny, lets get on the back of my bike!’ And she did.”

Those recruited volunteers will join detectives back at the crime scene on Saturday. The group will pass out fliers and talk to neighbors about the case, hoping someone will come forward with new information.

Oak Farms Dairy has also renewed the $10,000 reward first offered for information leading to an arrest and indictment in the case.  Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to call Arlington police at 817-459-5373, or contact Crime Stoppers at 817 469-TIPS (8477).

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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