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July 2002 Vol. 28, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Murder at Eighty Feet?

from the July, 2002 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

In what seems like the plot of a novel, two years after a diver found his wife motionless on the bottom and tried to resuscitate her, her father is now accusing him of murder.

In March 1999, David Swain, owner of the Ocean State Scuba in Jamestown, RI, was diving with his wife Shelley Arden Tyre, near Cooper Island in the British Virgin Island. After they became separated, Swain told police, he and another diver found her on the bottom, in 80 feet of water. They administered CPR, but she was pronounced dead a short time later.

Her father, Richard Tyre, says he has investigated the death for two years and now has sued Swain, claiming that he “intentionally caused or contributed to the death by drowning of his wife,” and alleges that “the death ...was caused by the defendant in a fashion that may be identified as a criminal act for which no criminal complaint . . . has been made.” The complaint, which calls Swain a “slayer,” says he should be disqualified from sharing in Tyre’s $141,000 estate, removed as executor, and seeks damages for pain and suffering and punitive damages.

Tyre won’t discuss why he believes Swain killed his daughter. However, he said “For a long time, we believed in him . . . We are convinced that he did what it says in the complaint.” His lawyer has asked Swain to turn over dive logs from the trip, the dive computer he wore, photographs from the trip and any diaries he or his wife may have kept. Swain’s lawyer has listed several factors that suggest foul play, among them that Tyre was an experienced scuba diver and her equipment was in perfect working condition on the day she died.

Tyre accused Tortola police of failing properly to investigate his daughter’s death. “They promised an inquest for two years and of course it never happened,” Tyre said, who believes authorities in Tortola are reluctant to draw attention to deaths, accidentally caused or otherwise, for fear of harming the tourist industry.

While Swain, who is a Town Councilman, has countersued his father-in-law for defamation, the court has since removed him as executor.

We’ll keep our eye on this because we’re curious how dive logs, the computer — three years later — photographs and “several factors” could prove murder. However, because this is a civil trial, not a criminal trial, we suspect they will settle and we’ll never find out.

From the complaint and reports in the Providence Journal.

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