David Swain Cause of Death: A Scuba Diving Mystery

David Swain, a Rhode Island man, was accused of killing his wife, Shelley Tyre, during a scuba diving trip in the Caribbean in 1999. He was convicted of murder in 2009, but his verdict was overturned in 2011. The case remains unsolved and controversial, as both sides have different versions of what happened on that fateful day.

The Last Dive

Shelley Tyre was a middle school principal at the prestigious Thayer Academy outside Boston. She was an adventurous and passionate woman who loved the ocean. She met David Swain, a divorced father of two teens, who ran a dive shop in Jamestown, Rhode Island, in the early 1990s. They shared a common interest in scuba diving and kayaking, and got married in 1993.

In March 1999, they decided to go on a Caribbean vacation to Tortola, British Virgin Islands. They planned to dive near an isolated shipwreck between Cooper and Salt Islands. On March 12, they boarded a boat with other divers and headed to the dive site. According to David Swain, he and his wife agreed to dive separately, as they had different levels of experience and interests. He said he wanted to explore the shipwreck, while she wanted to see the marine life around it.

He claimed that he dove first and spent about 20 minutes inside the shipwreck. He then surfaced and waited for his wife to join him. When she did not show up after another 20 minutes, he became worried and went back down to look for her. He said he found her body lying on a sandbar, about 80 feet below the surface. He said he tried to bring her up, but he was running out of air and had to let her go. He then signaled for help from the boat crew, who retrieved her body.

The Autopsy

Shelley Tyre was pronounced dead at the scene. Her death was initially ruled as an accident by the local authorities, who did not conduct a thorough investigation. They attributed her death to drowning or a possible heart attack. However, her parents, Richard and Lisa Tyre, were not convinced by this explanation. They hired their own experts to examine her body and her diving equipment.

The autopsy revealed that she had bruises on her head and chest, and that her mask was damaged and her snorkel was missing. Her regulator, which supplies air from the tank, was also found out of her mouth. The experts concluded that she had been attacked from behind by someone who yanked off her mask and cut off her air supply. They also found evidence of a struggle, such as scratches on her hands and arms.

The Civil Suit

The Tyres suspected that David Swain was responsible for their daughter’s death. They believed that he had a motive to kill her, as he was in love with another woman and wanted to obtain his wife’s money. They also claimed that he had signed a pre-nuptial agreement that would prevent him from getting any money if they divorced.

In 2006, they filed a civil suit against him in Rhode Island, accusing him of wrongful death. The civil jury agreed with them and awarded them $3.5 million in damages. David Swain denied any involvement in his wife’s death and filed for bankruptcy.

The Criminal Trial

The civil suit prompted the authorities in the British Virgin Islands to reopen the case and charge David Swain with murder. He was extradited to Tortola in 2008 and faced a criminal trial in 2009. The prosecution relied mainly on the testimony of the experts who had examined Shelley Tyre’s body and equipment. They also presented evidence of David Swain’s affair with another woman and his financial troubles.

The defense argued that there was no direct evidence linking David Swain to his wife’s death, and that the experts’ opinions were based on speculation and assumptions. They also challenged the credibility of the witnesses and pointed out inconsistencies in their statements.

The jury deliberated for about four hours before returning a unanimous guilty verdict. David Swain was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 25 years.

The Appeal

David Swain appealed his conviction, claiming that he had been denied a fair trial. His lawyer argued that the judge had made several errors in instructing the jury on how to handle the evidence from the civil suit and other matters. He also raised concerns about recalling defense witnesses given the amount of time that had passed since the incident.

In 2011, a panel of three judges with the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal agreed with him and overturned his conviction. They found problems with the jury instructions read by the judge during the trial, which they said could have confused or misled the jurors. They also declined to order a new trial, citing practical difficulties in securing witnesses.

David Swain was released from prison after spending more than two years behind bars. He returned to Rhode Island, where he reunited with his children, who had always supported him and believed in his innocence.

The Aftermath

The Tyres were disappointed and outraged by the appeal court’s decision. They said they were convinced that David Swain had killed their daughter and that justice had not been served. They also said they would continue to pursue him in the civil court to collect the damages they had won.

David Swain maintained that he had nothing to do with his wife’s death and that he still loved her. He said he hoped to clear his name and restore his reputation. He also said he wanted to move on with his life and focus on his family and his dive shop.

The case of Shelley Tyre’s death remains a mystery, as there is no definitive answer to what happened on that last dive. It is a tragic story of love, adventure, and suspicion, that has divided two families and left many questions unanswered.

Doms Desk

Leave a Comment