Two versions of the last hours of 22-year-old Sarah Swaim’s life started unfolding Monday in the 15th state District Court as Ms. Swaim’s boyfriend, Shane Bailey, faced a murder charge in her February death.
Ms. Swaim, a mother of two young children, was found wrapped in a carpet and trash bags at a local dump-site in a rural area near Denison after Bailey reported her missing to police on Feb. 7.
Prosecutors Kerye Ashmore and Matt Johnson contend Bailey beat the young mother savagely and choked her to death. Johnson contended that the unspeakable crime occurred in the house trailer the two shared at mobile home park in Sherman.
Police arrived at the home after getting a call from Bailey reporting his girlfriend of four years missing. At first glance, Johnson said, police saw nothing overtly suspicious at the home, except some carpet that seemed to have been hastily replaced.
But something just didn’t sit right with the first officer on the scene.
A little closer look turned up some bloody clothes in the dryer. Then, after obtaining a search warrant, police went back into the home with special equipment that could help them detect places where someone might have tried to clean up blood evidence.
And they found that evidence, he said, in the master bedroom.
“The whole wall next to the bed (lit) up like a Christmas tree,” Johnson said. He said that blood evidence was eventually compared to Ms. Swaim’s body and found to be a match.
He said they also found evidence with her DNA on the mattress once they flipped it over and a blood soaked pillow hidden in the cabinet above the dryer. Johnson said Ms. Swaim’s DNA was found on Bailey’s underpants and his shoes. Bailey’s DNA was found in scrapings from under Ms. Swaim’s nails.
On the other side of the courtroom, defense attorney Rick Dunn reserved his opening statement until after the prosecution finishes its case. However, jurors heard Bailey’s version of events from his own mouth via recorded statements he gave to police officers on the day he reported his girlfriend missing.
He told officers they put their 2-year-old daughter to bed and then began to do shots of vodka. After a few shots, he said, Ms. Swaim began to complain about their finances. Bailey said Ms. Swaim picked a fight, but he refused to take the bait and went to bed.
He said as he was falling asleep he heard the door bang and thought it was her leaving. He told police he didn’t think anything about it because she had left like that before. It was only when she didn’t return by 2 p.m. the next day, he said, that he began to worry. So, he called some of her family and friends. When none of them had heard from her either, he said, he called police.
In his taped conversation with SPD Detective Jeremy Cox, Bailey said the couple had lived in the home for 13 months when Ms. Swaim went missing. He said they had spent most of the day of their fight working in the home. They spoke for about 20 minutes with a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Children who came by to talk about their progress of cleaning up their lives from their shared drug problem.
They had “been through hell and back together,” Bailey said, after losing two children to Child Protective Services and were looking forward to getting married in the summer.
Bailey described Ms. Swaim as a “fun-loving person,” and a “good mom,” who “gets a little rowdy” when she drinks sometimes, and sometimes “gets a little out of control.”
Jurors will continue to hear more of Bailey’s statement to police when the case resumes Tuesday morning.