Dyer County Sheriff Jeff Box said his detectives have eliminated all but one suspect in the probe of the Fall 2011 slaying of 44-year-old mother Karen Swift.
The name of the suspect and his or her relation to Ms. Swift has not been released.
"I think it gives everybody a little hope," said James Brown, Dyersburg resident. "Lots of wondering. I think everybody just wants to know what happened to tell you the truth."
Sheriff Box said Monday that his department has had a person of interest for months, but it's the high community interest which pushed his department to make some of the investigation details public.
"In order to ensure a successful prosecution, we will continue to protect the integrity of this case to the end," he said in a statement released to the media on Monday. "The cardinal rule of law enforcement is to do the job, but do it right."
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Ms. Swift disappeared from her home Oct. 30 after a Halloween party. She lived about three miles from Bledsoe Cemetery, where a caretaker found her remains.
Her 2004 Nissan Murano, which had a flat tire, was found a mile from her home.
So far, no eyewitness have come forward.
Sheriff Box estimates between 50 to 100 pieces of evidence have been collected. Investigators have received much of the lab results back, but Box stated they are looking forward to receiving everything back that is needed to prepare this case for trial.
"Our investigators have done a very good job in compiling the evidence and we will use all of the results of the investigation and evidence from these agencies, in unison, to see that an arrest and conviction is obtained," Sheriff Box said.
Some of the evidence includes Ms. Swift's cell phones, which sheriff detectives hope will help pinpoint her whereabouts before, during, and after the murder.
While the Secret Service is using high tech processing to analyze Swift's cell, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in Nashville is sifting through forensic lab work.
"This processing with the Secret Service may provide highly detailed data, which may include the time of every movement that was made before, during, and after the murder," Sheriff Box said. "I know the community would like to see an arrest made, so would we. However, patience is the key and it is paying off as time has been beneficial in making sure a conviction is rendered, after we make an arrest."
The Dyer County Sheriff's Office would have named the person of interest a suspect, but Sheriff Box said the woman or man is not on the run from authorities or is not in danger to others.
"She was sweet, just happy person, fun to be around," said Kayla Wright, family friend.
"I don't have any ideas who it could be, but hopefully it will be resolved soon," said Bill Revell, former Dyersburg mayor.
In what has been a tight-lipped investigation, this latest information reveals this is an active cold case. The case will lean on DNA and highly detailed data that will be ready for a court presentation.
"I have made additional requests top expedite the processing of the remainder of the DNA and forensic evidence that is needed," Sheriff Box said. "Some of the processing includes not only lab work, but taking the results of the investigation and having it preparing in a courtroom presentation display format."
"Well I'll be glad when it comes to a solution, is solved," Revell said. "It's been a very tough thing for our area."
The Tennessee Highway Patrol Response Team is also working with Dyer County investigators to help determine the distance her white SUV traveled from the time Ms. Swift arrived home.
Ms. Swift's autopsy results, which were performed by the Shelby County Medical Examiner's Office in Memphis, were sealed under a court order citing the ongoing investigation.
Dyersburg is 75 miles northeast of Memphis.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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