From the Files of the Kosciusko County Historical Society
Editor’s note: This is a retrospective article that runs a few times a month on InkFreeNews.
1994 — When David Swearingen killed his two young children and an unarmed sheriff’s deputy on the night of June 29, the community faced one of its greatest horrors as people dealt with the shock of the murders and fear of Swearingen remaining on the loose.
The violence began after Kosciusko County sheriff’s deputy Phil Hochestetler stopped at Swearingen’s home on Clark Street, just a few houses down from his own apartment. The 32-year-old detective was investigating the theft of firearms from a residence, and wanted to talk to Swearingen.
After a short discussion with Hochstetler, Swearingen returned from a room with one of the stolen guns and opened fire –first he shot an unarmed Hochstetler, then redirected his anger at his two children, Casey, 4, and Cody, 18 months, as his wife Le Ann ran into the room from the kitchen. He attempted to fire at Le Ann, but the gun jammed. In frustration, he struck her with the gun, breaking her ribs and fled out the door.
In a matter of minutes, helicopters with searchlights hovered above the Clark Street neighborhood while police on foot searched a thick wooded area near Pike Lake. An intensive search in the immediate area turned up nothing and was the beginning of a two-day hunt for the killer.
Two days later, shortly before sunset, Swearingen was shot down by police after slowly driving through the downtown area in a stolen pickup and firing at police. A short chase ended when Swearingen’s truck struck a utility pole at the corner of Detroit and Market streets.
Police quickly returned fire. In the end, more than 30 rounds were exchanged between police and suspect. Swearingen died two hours later at a Fort Wayne hospital.
July 6, 1984 — Divers from Warsaw and Kosciusko County police forces were still searching Winona Lake at 12:30 a.m. today for a 23-year-old Strong, Mich., magician who is believed to have fallen handcuffed off the Winona Queen pontoon at about 9:45 a.m. Identification was withheld pending notification of relatives.
The man was apparently practicing a magic act he was to perform at 1 p.m. today for a contingent from the Moody Bible Conference, which is being conducted in Winona Lake this week. The pontoon was approximately 400 feet out from the shore near the Winona Hotel.
The man and a companion, Terry Knaus, St. Johns, Mich., were apparently in Winona Lake for a meeting of Christian magicians.
June 27, 1973 — Olympic gold medalist Mark Spitz and wife, Suzy, were greeted by Warsaw Mayor Paul (Mike) Hodges and his wife Sheila when the Munich swim star arrived at the local Holiday Inn late Tuesday night. This morning Spitz appeared in a public ceremony at Camelot Square in North Webster. This afternoon, he was inducted into the Palace of Sports at a dinner at the Tippecanoe Lake Country Club attended by approximately 250 persons.
June 27, 1919 — The Little Crow Mill was practically destroyed by fire June 27, 1919. W.F. Maish estimated that the loss was more than $25,000. The mill was at the corner of North Lake and Main streets.
– Compiled by InkFreeNews reporter Lasca Randels