Composite sketch courtesy Arlington Police Department
Alan Scaia, WBAP 24/7 News
ARLINGTON (WBAP 24/7 NEWS) - Arlington police have started combing through surveillance video from businesses near the site of an 83 year old woman's murder Tuesday morning.
Leona Swafford was carjacked outside her home near Sussex and South Center Street. Witnesses heard her screaming for help, but they say her attacker had driven off in her car before they could intervene.
"She was a defenseless woman," says Sergeant Christopher Cook. "There was no reason to kill her. This was a senseless act of violence against her and against our community."
Police found her car abandoned at an apartment complex near New York Avenue and Park Row, about two miles away. A construction crew found her body near Park Row and Kimberly Drive.
By Wednesday afternoon, her relatives had begun arriving from the east coast.
"She looked after us forever," says one of her grandsons, Ben Harbin. "She was a guiding light, the matriarch of the family."
Harbin and his brother, Steven, grew up in Arlington but now live in South Carolina.
"Arlington, Texas is where we're from," Steven Harbin says. "The people in this community, they're part of our family, too."
Cook says Swafford's killer likely has ties to Arlington as well. They believe he may still be hiding somewhere in the city. Police are asking residents to call if they see someone who matches the killer's description acting strangely.
"Maybe it's someone who's trying to take an unexpected trip or someone who doesn't show up for work," Cook says. "It could be someone appearing overly nervous. Basically, it comes down to someone changing their normal routine."
Witnesses describe the attacker as dark-skinned, about six feet tall with a muscular build. He may have short, dark hair.
Police have started searching surveillance video from businesses near the three crime scenes. Cook is also asking homes with video systems to share their information.
"Anytime we have a crime like this, it's very concerning not only to the Arlington Police Department, but for our community," he adds. "We work very hard to earn the trust and the right to police this community."
Oak Farms Dairy is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction.
Swafford's relatives have expressed confidence in the department, but they acknowledge why a neighborhood might remain on edge following a murder that may have been random.
"This guy needs to be caught," says Ben Harbin. "He did it to my grandmother, he'll do it to yours."
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