Former Town Council member arrested on murder charge
The arrest was made on a warrant by the BWI court, as prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Vilker in U.S. District Court for Rhode Island, in conjunction with extradition proceedings under a treaty with United Kingdom.
District Judge Lincoln Almond ordered Swain be held without bail pending an extradition hearing set for Wednesday, Nov. 21, in Providence.
Swain has continued to deny that he killed his wife in waters off the BWI island of Tortola. In March 2006, Swain was found responsible by a jury for her death in a wrongful death civil trial but was appealing the multi-million-dollar judgment awarded to Richard and Lisa Tyre, of Jamestown, parents of Swain's late wife, Shelley.
Vilker wrote in his court complaint calling for the extradition that there was "overwhelming circumstantial evidence" that Swain killed his wife while they were scuba diving. Vilker listed the evidence as including Swain's behavior after Tyre's death, testimony from medical experts ruling out any other cause of natural or accidental death, an apparent financial motivation and the condition of scuba gear indicating a violent struggle took place.
BWI officials originally ruled the 1999 death "accidental unless proven otherwise" but resumed their investigation after the 2006 Rhode Island civil verdict.
J. Renn Olenn, the lawyer for Tyre's parents, argued Swain killed his wife for money and for another woman. The lawyer through his scuba experts as witnesses presented information they said showed that Swain approached his wife from behind, cut off her air supply and held her in the water until she drowned.
The Tyres have received none of the court judgment. Swain was ruled bankrupt for debts other than the wrongful death judgment.
Olenn said Wednesday the Tyres felt stunned disbelief at first, and then overwhelming relief about Swain's arrest. The Tyres had expressed some pessimism about the case as it was dragged out by appeals and delays initiated by Swain, who was reported as saying he will contest the extradition.
Swain was led into the federal courtroom on Wednesday in handcuffs. He said little during his court appearance. His attorney, assistant federal public defender Kevin Fitzgerald, asked that Swain be released on bail, saying Swain had strong ties to the community and was not a flight risk.
Judge Almond denied the request and ordered Swain be held at the federal Donald W. Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls. Swain did not waive extradition, and an extradition hearing is slated for next week.