In a shocking and tragic turn of events, a Florida man who raised thousands of dollars on a GoFundMe page following the death of his husband has been arrested on charges of violently killing his spouse and then staging a fake crime scene to cover up the crime.
The story revolves around Herbert Swilley, a 55-year-old Florida resident, who was taken into custody months after his husband, Timothy Smith, was found dead in their Ocala apartment on March 25, as reported by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
The investigation into Smith’s death unveiled disturbing details. At the time of his demise, Smith had a lethal dose of diphenhydramine in his system, a common ingredient found in over-the-counter medications like Benadryl. He also displayed signs of blunt force trauma to his face and genitalia, in addition to a ligature mark on his neck.
Swilley now faces charges of first-degree premeditated murder and tampering with evidence. As of now, his attorney has not provided any comment on the case.
The tragic incident began to unfold when deputies were called to the couple’s apartment on the morning of March 25 after Smith, a 59-year-old, failed to show up for work the previous day. Inside the apartment, they discovered Smith’s lifeless body, indicating that he had “suffered a violent attack.”
Over the next several months, investigators meticulously reviewed video surveillance footage and interviewed individuals who were acquainted with the couple. Initially, Swilley cooperated with the investigation, providing a statement to detectives. However, it was later determined that his statement was inaccurate, self-serving, or contradictory to other evidence. As a result, Swilley ceased cooperation, and his attorney proposed that he would only speak to investigators if granted immunity from prosecution regarding Smith’s murder.
Another startling revelation came to light during the investigation, suggesting that Smith may have been a victim of domestic abuse perpetrated by Swilley.
On August 8, Swilley was officially named a suspect in the case, while his daughter, Jordan Swilley, was designated as a person of interest. Curiously, on the same day, Swilley posted a tribute to his late husband on Facebook, commemorating their anniversary.
Shortly after Smith’s death, Swilley initiated a GoFundMe campaign and succeeded in raising more than $2,200 in donations for a “celebration of life.” The campaign has since been removed, and all donors have been refunded, according to a spokesperson from GoFundMe.
While the investigation progressed, authorities discovered that Smith had been administered a significant overdose of diphenhydramine, an antihistamine commonly found in products like Benadryl. The dosage was a staggering 30 times higher than the standard therapeutic amount.
Tragically, after Smith was subjected to the overdose, Swilley is alleged to have strangled him to death using an unknown ligature, which resulted in a fractured cervical spine. Swilley then moved Smith’s body from their home to a nearby apartment they had rented.
Swilley is also accused of creating a fabricated crime scene inside the apartment and attempting to destroy evidence using household cleaning products. He later drove to the landfill and disposed of two carpets a few hours after the murder, eventually returning home to erase footage from their Ring camera.
Further investigation revealed that Smith had secured a new job in another county shortly before his tragic demise and was planning to relocate without Swilley. Intriguingly, it was discovered that Swilley was designated as the beneficiary of Smith’s life insurance policies, totaling $333,000. These developments have added layers of complexity to an already disturbing case.
The incident underscores the harrowing consequences of domestic violence and the misuse of trust and resources. As the legal proceedings unfold, the full extent of the tragedy will become clear, and justice will be pursued on behalf of Timothy Smith.