CLEARWATER – Clearwater Police Chief Daniel Slaughter held a press conference Oct. 5 to update the public on an investigation into the murders of an elderly couple found dead in their home on Flushing Avenue.
A relative and neighbor found the couple identified as David Swan, 88, and his wife Mina, 80, the afternoon of Sept. 29, after they became concerned when they did not see the couple past Sept. 27 and noticed newspapers collecting at the home. The Swans were last seen alive in the early afternoon of Sept. 27.
Slaughter said from evidence collected thus far, police believe Dave and Mina were both shot and killed sometime between 3 p.m. Sept. 27 and 3 p.m. Sept. 28. He also said the evidence indicates that the “offender came with the intent to kill.”
“It does not appear to be a random act,” he said, adding that he does not believe there is any reason for the rest of the community to be concerned.
Slaughter called the press conference for several reasons, including to continue to urge anyone with any information about “who would want to hurt David and Mina” to contact police. People can call a tip line at 727-562-4141 or use the TIP411 system by texting a tip and the keyword CWPD to 847411. They can also contact Crime Stoppers to leave an anonymous tip at www.crimestoppersofpinellas.org or by calling 1-800-873-TIPS (8477).
Another reason for the press conference was to provide details about the couple to allow people to get to know the victims and “understand that part of the tragedy,” Slaughter said.
David and Mina married in 1998. He had four children from a previous marriage and she had three from a previous marriage.
He was a retired certified public accountant and was still an “active and savvy investor,” Slaughter said. She was retired schoolteacher, having taught art at Clearwater High School for many, many years, according to her daughter, Noel Devine, who also spoke during the press conference.
“Our family is devastated by this loss,” Devine said. “Mom and Dave loved life.”
She said they had just returned from a second trip to Iceland and had plans to see the fjords in Norway next year. They also had a trip planned to the Caribbean. They spent years traveling in their RV and made friends wherever they went, Devine said.
They were well known in the neighborhood, walking their dog Benjie regular, until his death a few months ago.
Slaughter said the couple was living out their retirement and “outside of the crime, lived in a quiet and peaceful neighborhood.”
He said many of the details into the double homicide could not be shared while the investigation was ongoing. He did say that Clearwater detectives along with Pinellas County Sheriff’s forensic specialists had spent 40 hours working the crime scene and processing evidence.
They also collected trace evidence, which includes hairs, fibers, skill cells, DNA, etc., from anyone who entered the home. He described it as a “very time consuming” process, “vitally important for our investigation.” Police are also analyzing surveillance video from the area from a lot of different sources.
“In murder cases, there is usually some form of victim-offender relationship,” Slaughter said.
So, police are speaking to anyone who might have had a relationship with the Swans. Police want to talk to anyone who might have evidence on any issues that people had with the Swans and to people who might have seen something suspicious in the neighborhood around the time of the murders.
Police do not believe that robbery was involved, but they can’t rule it out since there is no way for them to know if anything is missing from the home. Everything is still being investigated.
“I did homicide investigations for a long time and when they break, they break fast,” Slaughter said. “Quite often you start out with this really large funnel. We’re still on the large funnel side. We’re going down every path in front of us right now to see where it leads us.”
Slaughter again assured the public that he doesn’t believe there is any danger to others and that the person who killed the Swans came to the home with the intent to kill them.
“I don’t know who did it yet. But statistically, there is usually a victim-offender relationship,” Slaughter said, adding that “good people” do become victims of crime.
He also said there are many motives for murder – greed, revenge, jealousy or crimes of passion.
“There’s a whole litany of potential, so we look at all those potential options,” he said. “It is hard to believe a couple in their 80s could fall into one of these categories, but it has happened before.”
Devine asked the public to “please remember our mom and dad,” and thanked Clearwater PD for “working so hard on behalf of our parents.”
“We truly appreciate it,” she said.
Suzette Porter is TBN's Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at email@example.com.