ARLINGTON -- The Arlington Police Department believes the man responsible for murdering an elderly woman during a carjacking on Tuesday is in hiding.
Police detectives are asking residents to check any personal surveillance video at their homes, especially those who live in the incident locations tied to the murder of 83-year-old Leona Swafford.
Those locations include the 400 block of Sussex Drive, the 1900 block of Kimberly Drive, and the 2000 block of Elm Point.
Officers spent Wednesday patrolling these areas and passing out flyers with a sketch of a possible killer. No suspect has been identified.
Neighbors are on guard.
I'm locked up, Carol Lamotte said. We've got everything locked up -- doors, fences. It's locked up all the time.
Tuesday morning, police got a call reporting that Swafford was attacked in her driveway in the 400 block of Sussex Dr. after returning from buying donuts. The neighbor who called 911 attempted to intervene but was overpowered.
The suspect sped away with Swafford still inside her Lincoln MZK sedan.
Her body was later found by construction workers on the side of a vacant home in the 1900 block of Kimberly Dr., about three miles from where she was taken. Police said her body showed evidence of head trauma.
The car was found abandoned in an apartment complex in the 2000 block of Elm Point Drive. Arlington police Sgt. Chris Cook said officers have processed the majority of all three crime scenes: where Swafford was abducted, where her body was dumped and where the sedan was abandoned. The vehicle's interior and exterior has been processed for evidence, Cook said.
By the end of Tuesday night, authorities used witness descriptions to drew up a sketch of the suspect and announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
We believe that this suspect could be in hiding or laying low, wrote Sgt. Christopher Cook in a release ahead of a planned 1 p.m. press conference.
The suspect is a black man in his late 20s to 30s with a muscular build, dark skin with little-to-no facial hair who stands between 5'11'' and 6' tall. He has short hair, which was possibly styled into a half-inch afro at the time of the crime. Investigators believe the suspect was armed at the time of the kidnapping. He is considered armed and dangerous.
This was a brutal crime, there's no secret about it, Cook said from Arlington police headquarters on Wednesday. Leona Swafford was a grandmother, she was a mother, she was a defenseless woman. There was no reason to kill her.
Cook is asking residents to keep an eye out for anyone exhibiting behavioral trends that are outside the norm. He advised being aware of anyone who refuses to leave a home or apartment or only departs for a brief amount of time.
Cook said to pay attention to individuals who may take a sudden trip, fail to show up to work or become oddly infatuated with the media coverage of the case.
Basically, it comes down to someone changing their normal routine, Cook said.
While the department is confident in the accuracy of its composite sketch, Cook says it should not be taken as Gospel.
It's not an exact picture of what the suspect might look like, he writes. Again, it's a tool to help in the investigation.
During an afternoon news conference, Swafford's family members thanked police and the public for their help in the case and pleaded with residents to come forward with any information they may have. They also spoke highly of Swafford's character. She was a woman who would lay down her life for those around her, they each said.
She spent most of her time helping other people, that was what she did, said grandson Ben Harben, who was in South Carolina when he learned of his grandmother's murder. She built you up, picked you up when you were down, gave you hugs when you needed them.
Swafford, a devout Christian, loved nature and dedicated much time to tending to the garden she maintained outside of her Arlington home.
It was beautiful, Harben said of her garden. She liked to work with her hands, she liked everything that had to do with God.
She was also attached to the community when her family left for Greenville, S.C., she stayed put in her house on Sussex Drive.
She's a member of this community who lived here since i can remember, said grandson Stephen Harben. She watched us after school, she was like a second mom to us, and remember that. Remember that. She was a member of this community who would have done anything for you.
Anyone with tips can call 817.575.8529 or the Tarrant County Crime Stoppers at 817.469.8477.
Oak Farms Dairy will give anyone $10,000 for information leading to an arrest and indictment.