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Associated Press, Published June 26 2013

Missing man now believed to be murder victim in ND

BISMARCK — An 18-year-old man from South Dakota who has been missing in North Dakota for about a month is now believed to have been killed, and authorities have a suspect in custody.

John Swain, who recently moved to Bismarck from Sioux Falls, S.D., for work reasons, was reported missing by his roommate on May 14. Police initially said his disappearance did not appear suspicious because he had a history of associating with transients, though they issued a statewide welfare check for him because he did not have needed medication with him.

Police said a Bismarck woman contacted police late last week after finding burned material including clothing, a knife and pieces of a cellphone in a trash can in the back of a shed. Investigators said the clothing appeared to match what Swain was wearing at the time he was last seen.

The woman had let Theo Crowe, 25, of Trenton, stay in the home temporarily while she was out of state for most of the month of May. She reported that she found blood on the floor when she returned but did not think much of it until finding the trash can items weeks later.

Crowe, who is jailed in Williams County on an unrelated matter, was charged Tuesday in Burleigh County with Class AA felony murder, which carries a maximum punishment upon conviction of life in prison without parole. His attorney in the Williams County case, Benjamen Johnson, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he is not representing Crowe on the murder charge. Court documents do not list an attorney for Crowe in Burleigh County.

Crowe is charged in Williams County with felony terrorizing and misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct and simple assault. He is accused of assaulting a woman who was taking him home when he was drunk on June 13, then threatening a sheriff's deputy and a security officer and making profane statements at a hospital, according to The Bismarck Tribune. He is due in court on July 23, at which time he might enter pleas to the charges.

"I anticipate he will plead not guilty" in the Williams County case, Johnson said.

Bismarck is in south central North Dakota and Williston is in the northwestern part of the state. Police are urging people in between the cities to be on the lookout for signs of fresh digging, where a body might have been buried.

"It could be anywhere," police Lt. Gary Malo said.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.