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Autopsy: ABC7 Chicago producer found dead in Belize was strangled

Anne Swaney / ABC7 Chicago

An autopsy on the body of an ABC7 Chicago employee found dead in western Belize has determined that she was strangled to death.

Anne Swaney, 39, died from “asphyxia due to compression of the neck area, throttling and blunt force traumatic injuries to the head and neck,” according to the post-mortem report prepared by Dr. Leyden Ken on Friday night.

Swaney was an executive producer of online operations at abc7chicago.com. Her body was discovered Friday morning floating face-down in the Mopan River, which flows into Belize from Guatemala.

Police in the border town of Benque Viejo del Carmen were questioning an unidentified Guatemalan national, who was fishing in the area but denied any involvement in her death.

“We currently have him in custody and we will be pursuing an interview for him to give account of himself,” Superintendent Daniel Arzu told local TV news.

Swaney was vacationing at the Nabitunich resort in the Cayo district when she was reported missing Thursday.

Police say members of a tour group she should have been part of returned to the resort and couldn’t find her.

Her belongings were later found on a deck by the riverside where she had gone to do yoga exercises.

Recently retired ABC7 reporter Paul Meincke and other colleagues expressed sorrow over Swaney’s death on Facebook.

“She loved horses and bike rides. She had a quick wit and a great laugh. She was whip smart and, as a journalist, she didn’t believe in short cuts. Check, double check, make sure it’s right. Even with the most complicated of stories, she wrote with clarity,” Meincke wrote in a post.

“Anne was a wonderful, and wonderfully talented colleague. Now we are just numb.”

John H. Idler, president and general manager of ABC7, said: “She was a trailblazer in the digital news space and was one of our first website employees. Anne helped us evolve our business and our newsroom, but most importantly, she was a kind person who was always had a smile and a positive attitude.”

Contributing: Sun-Times Staff