A journalist vacationing in Belize was found murdered on Friday.
Anne Swaney, 39, was a journalist vacationing in the Cayo District of western Belize this past week. She was staying at the Nabitunich Farm near San Jose Succotz. She had been there in the past and was on good terms with the owner of the farm, Santiago Juan.
On Thursday, Santiago reported Anne missing. When she was found murdered on Friday, she was identified as a journalist and producer working for ABC7 Chicago.
Thursday morning, the journalist was set to go on a horseback tour with other tourists. When the group met up, there were more people than there were horses, so Anne decided to sit out so that someone else could have her spot.
“Anne would do anything for anyone. She was always the first to volunteer to take on a tough job. She just did the right thing in situations,” a family member told CNN when they were not surprised the journalist would take a back seat for someone else.
After Anne gave up her spot, the journalist went down to a deck by the river with some of her belongings. There she intended to do some yoga.
When the horseback group returned, they found her belongings on the deck, but the journalist was nowhere to be found.
“A horse riding tour returned in the afternoon and found her personal effects on the deck. This looked suspicious so they went to her cabin and [ the journalist ] wasn’t there. They told the owner who called the police. The police came with their canine unit and the scent led them along the river but due to the darkness the search was called off for the night before finding her,” Benque Viejo Superintendent Daniel Arzu told ABC7 Chicago.
When the search concluded on Friday morning, the authorities found the journalist floating in the river face down and in a state of undress, murdered.
At first, Supt. Arzu suspected the journalist might have been sexually assaulted.
“We suspect that [ the journalist ] may have been sexually violated,” Arzu said to NBC. “She had bruises around her neck that reveals that there might have been some strangulation or some sort of fight back.”
Although ABC7 Chicago reports that female travelers in the district where the journalist was found have reported an increase in sexual assault, the autopsy showed no conclusive proof that sexual assault was involved in Anne’s case.
According to the autopsy, the murdered journalist was found to be a victim of “asphyxia by compression of the neck, manual strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head and neck.”
Authorities found a man fishing near where the murdered journalist was found and took him in for questioning. Investigators have been trying to ensure that people know the man is not a prime suspect in the murder of the journalist.
“We will be pursuing an interview and investigation to for him to give account for himself and as well we will be relying on the results of the post mortem examination and the forensic evidence collected from the area,” Arzu told CNN in reference to the fisherman’s claim that he had no connection to the murdered journalist.
ABC7 Chicago is in the midst of grieving for their lost journalist and friend.
“She was a trailblazer in the digital news space and was one of our first website employees,” said the president of ABC7 John H. Idler. “Anne helped us evolve our business and our newsroom, but most importantly, she was a kind person who was always had a smile and a positive attitude.”
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