A loving mother vanishes without a trace, just three weeks away from her wedding, leaving only a basket of clean laundry and police and family scratching their heads. Did Niqui McCown get cold feet before her big day or was she a victim of foul play?
July 22, 2001 was just like any other Sunday for 28-year-old Marilyn Nicole McCown, known to her friends and family as Niqui. For her it was Church in the morning and then her usual laundromat visit after dropping her daughter Payton at her parents' home. Niqui not only loved being a mother, but in 3 weeks she would be a new wife with her high school sweetheart Robert “Bobby” Webster.
While Niqui is at the laundromat, Bobby goes to the local mall for his tuxedo fitting. Bobby was expecting Niqui to be home around 4:30pm so they could finish writing their wedding invitations. Hours pass as Bobby waits for his future wife to come home, but worries when he doesn’t hear from her. Niqui’s mother last saw her daughter after she had dropped her clothes.
It was then that Niqui complained of two men harassing her at the laundromat telling her family “they just won’t leave me alone.” Around 10 pm Bobby, now distressed, drives to Dayton, Ohio (45 minutes away from Richmond, Indiana) where Niqui works as a correctional officer. He thinks Niqui may have been in a car wreck after being called into work. Niqui never makes it back home.
Can we trust the fiancee?
The next morning, Niqui’s family goes into action. They filed a missing person report for the absent mom. Following up on the two men who supposedly were harassing Niqui, the family visits the laundromat she was last seen at.
There was no CCTV there, but the neighboring gas station had video of Niqui leaving with her laundry. Everything in the video seemed normal. She did not look stressed, and there were no men harassing her like she claimed.
The family didn’t know what to make of this. They cast their suspicions on Bobby, which become the first suspect the police look into. Detectives soon notice some strange behaviour from Bobby.
One day after, his soon to be wife goes missing he tried to collect her unused tuition at her college, although he claimed he was just inquiring to the school about overdue debts. Either way, his sense of timing could not be more suspicious.
Bobby also tried to return the ring he purchased for the wedding, however the jeweler refused the refund. Bobby claimed he wanted to return the ring and buy a cellphone hoping to track down Niqui, although there was no evidence that he bought said cellphone. Another thing he denied was trying to cancel the wedding all together. “He started having behavior that was somewhat suspicious,”
Richmond Police Detective Michelle Miller said. Police asked Bobby if he would take a lie detector test to clear his name and he readily agreed. The test was a fail, and the polygraph conductor saw signs of deception from him. “There was no evidence,” Det. Miller told True Crime Daily. “His behavior was erratic, but as in physical evidence, there’s no evidence.” The family still believe that Bobby had some involvement in the disappearance.
Clean laundry and no foul play.
The police response to locating Niqui was fast acting, quickly setting up a helicopter search from Dayton, Ohio to Richmond, Indiana. Finding a missing car, via the air proved to be an impossible task and police had little luck.
However, on November 3, 2001 in Dayton, Ohio, investigators found Niqui’s car abandoned in an apartment complex.
The police believe Niqui drove her vehicle to the complex voluntarily. “The seat in the vehicle was in a position that would be the place that Niqui would have the seat, at least no one else larger than her would have been driving the vehicle,” said Det. Miller. There was clean laundry in the backseat, although they found no other clues of a crime.
Anonymous tipster shakes up the case.
On November 29, 2007, detectives receive an anonymous tip suggesting a former lover of Niqui, Tommy Swint may have had something to do with her disappearance. The caller also told the detectives to look into the case of Tina Marie Ivory, a murdered female victim from 1991.
The caller clarified that Tommy Swint should be the prime suspect in both the Marie Ivory and the Niqui McCown case. Police zero in on Swint in the Ivory murder by comparing a DNA sample taken from the crime scene to his. It was a match.
Swint lived less than a mile from Niqui’s abandoned car. Swint, supposedly, had a relationship with Niqui and was involved with one of her friends. The friend was the last person to speak with Niqui after leaving the laundromat. Swint refused to talk to police, and they named him a person of interest in the case. “His obsession was clear to family members the night of her bridal shower, when Swint mailed Niqui lingerie as a gift.
After further investigation, police found out Swint was not only obsessive but also violent,” said Det. Miller. Police focus on arresting Tommy Swint for the murder of Marie Ivory. To solidify their already solid case, detectives needed to match Swint’s palm print to the one found at Ivory’s murder scene.
He's one of us.
Around this time, Richmond Police discovered the Trotwood, Ohio police department hired Swint as a uniformed officer on August 30, 2007. Richmond police quickly reported to Trotwood PD that Swint was a person of interest in an ongoing murder investigation. They gave him the option to resign or face termination; he resigned.
Swint opened up a lawsuit with the department, but received no compensation for his claims. On November 17, 2009, he fled the area and moved to Alabama where he became a uniformed officer. It was around this time that the palm prints (on file at Trotwood PD) came back as a match for Tommy Swint and the murder of Tina Marie Ivory.
On February 3, 2010, a grand jury indicted him for the Ivory murder, but when police arrive at his apartment they are confronted with a single gunshot. Tommy Swint has killed himself.