Murder of ABC7 producer Anne Swaney still unsolved after 2 years

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

It was two years ago that Anne Swaney's body was found in a river in Central America, where she had been on vacation. She worked as the executive producer of digital at sister station WLS in Chicago.

There are still no suspects, no known motive and no justice in her murder, and only the calendar has changed since she was found dead one day after going missing from the equestrian resort in Belize where she had gone horseback riding.

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, and it is backed up by a $20,000 reward being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of her killer.

Anne was taking time off from her job at ABC7, and western Belize was a place the 39-year-old journalist had been before and loved to visit.

Resort employees said they saw her walk down to the Mopan River, and her possessions were 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.

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.


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," police spokesman Raphael Martinez said. "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 10 deadliest countries. The murder rate in 2016 was the second highest ever recorded, with 138 killings. Officials say 2017 was even worse, with 142 killings in a nation of only 366,000 residents. And they say 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.

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homicide investigationtourist
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