Life with no parole for man who killed parents

Swope expected to appeal conviction

(Published October. 21, 2006, 12:38 p.m.)

By Mike Heine/The Week

Craig A. Swope killed his mother and stepfather sometime in early January 2004 then left their town of Delavan home with the couple's checkbook in hand and a plan.

Swope wasn't about to tell anyone that his parents, Carolee and Duane Recob, were dead. He left Carolee in a bed covered by a blanket and Duane in a recliner with a crossword puzzle at his side. Then he cleaned out their checking account of nearly $43,000.

The Recobs weren't found until Feb. 29, 2004 when police were called to the Highway 11 home between Delavan and Elkhorn for a welfare check. Swope's own two daughters, Lindsey and Ashley, couldn't get inside and they phoned police, telling officers they hadn't seen their grandparents in two months.

For performing what Judge James Carlson called "one of the most callous crimes imaginable," Swope was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison with no chance of release on extended supervision. It is believed he smothered his parents.

He is expected to appeal the conviction a jury reached a month ago, defense attorney Patrick Cafferty said.

None of the Recobs' family members present spoke at the sentencing. Nor did Lindsey (Swope) Gruling, who attended with her husband.

Craig Swope declined to speak during his right of allocution.

Afterward, Karen Tidwell, Duane's younger sister, said she was glad justice was done.

"I just think everybody involved in this case did a fantastic job," she said. "I think Walworth County is lucky to have the police and detectives and district attorney that it has."

Jerry Hardy, a nephew of Duane and Carolee Recob, only met Craig Swope once in his life, when the two were young, probably in their teens. He said it's a shame someone would kill his mother and stepfather.

"I'm for the death penalty, but for him, I want him to spend life in prison," Hardy said. "And I hope he lives a long life. I want him to think about it every day and to suffer through it."

Town of Delavan Police Chief Andrew Mayer said the investigation was the largest the town's police force ever handled. He wouldn't venture to guess how many hours were spent investigating. The Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigations and the FBI assisted local police.

"Our investigation focused on Mr. Swope shortly after we discovered the bodies," Mayer said. "Obviously, we looked at every other possibility, but our focus of interest always came back to Mr. Swope."

Police first arrested Swope in May 2004 on multiple forgery charges. The checks Craig Swope cashed left a paper trail that led back to an unemployed man who was living well beyond his means. He used his parents' money to take trips and purchase a Rolex watch.

Swope, 53, formerly of 2095 Emery Court, No. 7, East Troy, pleaded to 20 forgery counts and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

He was charged with double-homicide in February 2005, after police had ruled out every other possibility.

Koss said he was sure Swope killed his parents when testing for carbon monoxide poisoning came back negative.

"It's as common sense as it was on day No. 1-two people don't just die at the same time," he said.

 

 

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