Local 24 News has obtained autopsy results for a Dyersburg, Tennessee, mother of four who disappeared after a Halloween party seven years ago. The body of Karen Swift was found in early December 2011 in a cemetery not from her home.
We obtained the autopsy results from Burton Staggs, a journalist at the Tennessee River Valley News, which is a digital news organization in Wayne County.
A judge sealed the autopsy results when Karen Swift’s body was found, meaning the report wouldn’t be available to the public or media. But Staggs said the Tennessee State Medical Examiner’s Office sent him the autopsy results after he recently requested them.
The report shows Swift died of blunt force trauma to the head after being hit, possibly with a hammer. Swift was also found wearing nothing but underwear that were pulled half way down her thighs. Swift’s body was too decomposed to determine if she was sexually assaulted.
According to the toxicology report, Swift didn’t have illegal drugs or alcohol in her system when she died.
Local 24 News spoke with the sheriff and prosecutor over the phone about the case. They said no one has been arrested, but the investigation is still active.
And they said judges will seal an autopsy to protect an ongoing investigation and to protect the victim’s family from finding out devastating details about a crime.
Local 24’s Tish Clark left a message for the medical examiner to find out why sealed autopsy results were sent to a journalist.