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N.D. slaying suspected was kicked out of Army

Jun. 27, 2013 - 01:45PM   |  
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BISMARCK, N.D. — A man accused of killing a South Dakota man who had recently moved to North Dakota received a bad conduct discharge from the Army in February.

Theo Crowe, 25, of Trenton, was court-martialed at Fort Hood, Texas, on allegations involving theft, drugs and assault, and found guilty of misconduct, Ray Gall, a spokesman for Army Human Resources Command, told The Bismarck Tribune.

Crowe, who enlisted in January 2009, was a combat engineer and held the rank of private. Nearly half of his time in the service was spent in confinement, Gall said.

Crowe is charged with murder in the apparent death of John Swain, 18, who had recently moved from Sioux Falls, S.D., to Bismarck, N.D. Swain went missing in mid-May.

Authorities on Wednesday recovered a body at a Montana home owned by Crowe’s grandmother, Bismarck Police Deputy Chief Randy Ziegler told the Tribune. Officials with the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department were serving a search warrant at the home in Poplar, Mont., owhen they discovered the body, he said.

Bismarck police said in a release that the body found was connected to the Swain homicide investigation, and that an autopsy was planned to identify it. Roosevelt County Sheriff Freedom Crawford referred calls to Bismarck police.

Crowe does not yet have an attorney in Burleigh County, where he is charged with Class AA felony murder, a charge that carries a maximum punishment of life in prison without parole. He remains in custody in Williston on unrelated charges of terrorizing, disorderly conduct and simple assault in Williams County. His attorney there has told The Associated Press that Crowe intends to plead not guilty in that case, which involves an alleged assault of a woman and threats to a sheriff’s deputy.

Swain’s father, David Swain, told the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls that he and his wife adopted John from Hong Kong when he was 3. He said his son dropped out of school earlier this year and moved to Bismarck to find work.

David Swain said he thinks his son encountered Crowe at a party, and that a police detective told him John’s death appeared to be “just a plain, random killing.”

John Swain had been missing for a month when a woman who had let Crowe stay in her home while she was out of state for most of the month of May discovered burned material including clothing, a knife and pieces of a cellphone in a trash can in the back of a shed. Investigators said the clothing appeared to match what Swain was wearing at the time he was last seen.

“Basically, a big guy killed him, took his clothes off and tried to burn them in a burn barrel,” David Swain said.

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