By Abbey Doyle
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Swann Sawyer was a strong, independent and adventurous woman. Perhaps some of that personality came from her namesake — NFL hall of famer Lynn Swann.
Swann Sawyer’s mom, Deborah, joked that the girl’s father, Billy Sawyer, is a football fanatic.
Like Deborah, Swann’s older sister, Ieesha Sawyer-Lewis, said her sister was one of the most independent people she knew.
“She didn’t want help from anyone,” Ieesha said. “She was so strong-minded. When she decided she was going to do something, she would figure out a way to get it done. And she was never a follower.”
The death of Swann, 26, was unexpected enough, but when the family learned it was at the hand of her fiance, the news was even harder to take, Deborah said.
On Oct. 15, 2006, Russell Disbrow, 20, shot Swann three times in the back as she was trying to leave their Arizona apartment complex with Disbrow’s brother and mother. He then turned the gun on himself. Both died of those injuries.
The day that Swann was killed, Deborah said her daughter told her about Disbrow’s drinking and how unhappy she was with it. But Deborah said she thought the two otherwise were happy, and she was shocked to hear of what happened.
“That day I’d lost her I talked to (Russell) and he said they were going to get married and give me some beautiful grandchildren,” Deborah said. “She would have been a very doting, loving and protective momma.”
Swann, a Madison Heights High graduate, had some struggles in her younger years in Anderson, Deborah said, but she had gotten back on track just before deciding to move west to Arizona to care for an ailing cousin and her family.
Ieesha was the oldest of Deborah’s five daughters and said the girls were close, always performing songs, dances or skits together at family reunions. Their great-grandmother even called them the Sawyer Five. The five would get portraits taken at least once a year, but since Swann’s death the four haven’t continued the tradition.
“It’s not the same without her,” Ieesha said. “We miss her. She’s the missing puzzle piece we can’t get past. She was such a sweet girl, very beautiful.”
Swann was working for less than a year at Wal-Mart in Arizona before they’d asked her to become a department manager, Deborah said, proudly, of her daughter.
“She loved Arizona. She loved her job,” Deborah said. “She told us that’s where she wanted to stay. When I went out to visit her, I knew she was doing well and was so happy.”
In addition to her four sisters, Swann had a half-sister and brother.