SAN JOSE SUCCOTZ, Sat. Jan. 16, 2016–The body of Elizabeth Ann McComb Swaney, 39, a television executive of ABC 7 News of Chicago, USA, who was on a 7-day vacation at the Nabitunich Stone Cottages Resort in San Jose Succotz, Cayo District, was found floating in the Mopan River, about 6 feet from the bank, at about 8:00 this morning, with strangulation marks around her neck.
She was reported missing at 4:30 Thursday evening, when she had still not returned after leaving her cottage at about 8:00 that Thursday morning to meditate near the Mopan River.
Police said that when they retrieved Swaney’s body from the water, they saw physical injuries such as gashes on both sides of her forehead that were about 1 inch deep along with bruise marks on her neck, back and hands. Her body was taken to the San Ignacio Town Hospital morgue. Dr. Gabrielle Lovell declared Swaney dead at 10:08 this morning, and police concluded that she had been murdered.
Police say that she had been missing between 4:05 p.m.Thursday and 6:25 p.m. Today, Saturday a post-mortem examination was conducted on Swaney’s body by Doctor Leyden Ken at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. At the conclusion of the exam, the cause of her death was certified to be asphyxia due to compression to the neck area, throttling (manual strangulation) and blunt force traumatic injuries to her head and neck regions.
The body of Elizabeth Swaney will be returned to her hometown of Rockwell, Chicago, for her funeral.
Benque police said that an investigation has begun to find Swaney’s killer, but no one has yet been arrested for the brutal death. A Guatemalan man who was found in the area had been detained for investigation.
Police told Amandala that at about 5:00 Thursday afternoon, January 14, Santiago Juan, owner of Hannahs Stables located at Nabitunich Resort, San Jose Succotz, Cayo District, went to the Benque Viejo Police Station and reported that about 8:00 Thursday morning, Swaney left her cabaña and went along a trail that leads to the Mopan River bank to practice yoga.
Amandala was told that Swaney was to go on a horseback tour of the area along with others, but they were a horse short, so she could not go on the ride. Instead, she went to the river to do yoga and meditate.
Police reported that at around 4:30 the same Thursday afternoon, Swaney was reported missing after she failed to return from the Mopan River to her cabaña.
A party from the resort searched the area to find her, but the effort was in vain.
Police went to the area at 5:10 p.m. and also began to search for her. They found Swaney’s personal items along the river bank, but the search was called off because it became dark. At about 5:00 Friday morning at first light, however, police resumed their search of the area, and at 8:15 yesterday morning, three hours after the search was resumed, the semi-nude body of a female was found floating at the edge of the Mopan River bank within the proximity of the resort.
The body was retrieved, and was positively identified as that of Anne Elizabeth McComb Swaney.
Those who saw the body said that Swaney appeared to have fought with her attacker before she was strangled. Although she was reportedly found wearing only her brassiere and no underwear, the post-mortem did not reveal that she had been raped.
The ABC7 TV executive is the first person to be murdered in the Benque Viejo Del Carmen area since the beginning of the New Year, and police said that they are conducting an intensive investigation to solve the case and arrest the killer
The manager of Nabitunich told Amandala that they greatly regret the death and are grappling with the tragedy, and have conveyed their condolences to Swaney’s family in Chicago.
In remembering Swaney, US news networks said that Swaney was an avid world traveler who loved her family, horseback riding and adventure. Her recent trips included Turkey, Greece, Costa Rica, London and a cattle drive in the western United States. Her family has lost count of all the countries she’s visited, news reports have said.
Swaney travelled alone to Nabitunich, a farm in the Cayo District of western Belize. She had been there before and was friendly with the owner of the farm, which offers tours on horseback.
Swaney grew up in Platte City, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City. She graduated from Northwestern Medill School of Journalism in Chicago in 1998 and was an active alumnus, serving on the class reunion committee in 2013 and the college’s current fundraising campaign.
News of her death shook CNN affiliate WLS, where she worked for two decades.
Kevin Carpenter, Director of Digital Operations at ABC7 Chicago, told CNN that, “Anne was their leader; Anne was their conscience. Anne wanted to make sure that every story that they put online was first and foremost right.” “She will be remembered as a tough copy editor who took pride in every story,” he said.
Rosie Powers, an ABC7 web producer who worked closely with Anne, remembered her as “a light, a source of laughter and smiles, and a source of wisdom that’s really one of a kind.”
Anne Swaney was executive producer of online operations at abc7chicago.com, according to WLS.
“She was a trailblazer in the digital news space and was one of their first website employees,” said John H. Idler, president and general manager of ABC7.
“Anne helped us evolve our business and our newsroom, but most importantly, she was a kind person who always had a smile and a positive attitude,” he said.
The State Department notified Swaney’s family of her death and remains in contact with them, a family member told CNN.