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'Very religious' naked woman Inga Marie Swanson shot and killed, friends baffled

6:08 PM, Oct 22, 2012   |    comments
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Inga Marie Swanson

 

Spring Hill, Florida -- Friends and neighbors describe a Hernando woman shot and killed over the weekend as normal, funny, and deeply religious.

So they wonder what could have driven 42-year-old Inga Marie Swanson to walk naked through her neighborhood, speaking irrationally, before a deadly confrontation with two off-duty members of law enforcement.

They say  Swanson would sooner wear a turtle-neck and long pants than walk around naked -- and sooner clasp her Bible, than a gun.

"Something was really wrong," said Al Eylward, who first saw Swanson walking up the road toward him Saturday afternoon. She was naked and disoriented. He and a friend asked her if she was all right, he says.

"And she answered she was okay, but just a little confused and kept walking."

Swanson disappeared into the woods, but Eylward says he and his friend would see her again just a few minutes later. This time he says Swanson, still naked, walked through the front door of the house they were in, clutching a large, shiny crucifix.

"Anti-Christ, anti-Christ," she said, according to Eylward. "It was in a circular motion she was holding the crucifix up like this - saying 'This meeting's over.'"

Even then, Eylward says he didn't feel threatened. He even snapped a photo of Swanson walking away peacefully, and saw no need to call police.

See the photo here. WARNING- some nudity

But a short time later, neighbor John Olefirowicz says he likely heard the gunshots that ended Marie's life.

"That bang, bang, bang we heard was gunfire," he said to his wife. "I'd kinda like to know what triggered the event that she would do what she did."

Detectives say Swanson had shown up, still naked, with a weapon at a private party, where two off-duty law enforcement officers happened to be present.

The Hernando County Sheriff's Office identifies the officers involved as 31-year-old Detective Rocky Howard and 26-year-old Tampa Police Officer Bill Mechler.

It's still not clear if one or both officers fired the shots that ended Swanson's life. Both are on paid leave while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigates.

People closest to Swanson -- those who have known her for more than a decade -- say they are perplexed by this.

In recent years they say Swanson had become very conservative.

"Very, very into her Bible," said Amy Hull, a friend of 15 years. "I don't understand why it had to end like that."

"It seems completely out of character from what I know and I've seen her and so-forth," said Olefirowicz.

Eylward feared, perhaps, that the off-duty lawmen had mistaken the crucifix he and his friend had see earlier in the day for a weapon. But on Monday investigators with the Hernando County County Sheriff's office revealed Swanson was in fact, holding a firearm at the time she was shot.

They did not specify what type of weapon.

Eylward now regrets not having called police earlier.

"I made a wrong decision, just to let it be," he said, "I think if I called the police, maybe they could have saved her and we could have saved a life," he says.

The lawmen involved remained on paid administrative leave Monday. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has taken over the investigation, and declined to comment at this time.

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