Timothy Smith, aged 59, and Herb Swilley, aged 55, were nearing their eighth wedding anniversary when Smith was discovered dead in an Ocala, Florida, apartment they rented. The revelation unfolded five months before their anticipated celebration.
Swilley, present at the scene, asserted that the residence was used for extramarital encounters, claiming the couple had an open marriage. Smith’s friend and former colleague, Tammy Warner, was also present.
Loved ones remember Smith as a caring and compassionate friend, always ready with a joke. Smith’s younger sister, Sandy Riels, describes him as someone who looked out for everyone around him.
However, some of Smith’s friends expressed reservations about Herb Swilley, stating that they wouldn’t have befriended him if not for Tim. Candy Baker, a friend of Smith, described Swilley as having a rough personality and being very cold.
Authorities noted that Swilley displayed limited emotion at the scene, showing little sadness or despair upon the discovery of his husband’s death, as per the probable cause affidavit.
When found, Smith was undressed from the waist down, with ligature marks around his neck, blunt force trauma to his face and genitals, and a fractured cervical spine. A toxicology report indicated a significant overdose of diphenhydramine, the active ingredient in Benadryl.
Within 24 hours of Smith’s discovery, friends observed Swilley and his daughter, Jordan Swilley, 20, disposing of Tim’s belongings, including family photos, raising suspicions about his involvement.
After more than seven months of investigation, on November 2, 2023, Swilley was arrested and charged with premeditated first-degree murder and evidence tampering. He has pleaded not guilty.
Authorities allege that Swilley killed Smith at their primary residence, transported the body to the apartment, and staged a “mock crime scene.” The affidavit revealed that Smith was a victim of domestic violence, close to securing a new job in a different county and intending to move without Swilley.
Swilley was also the beneficiary of Smith’s $333,000 life insurance policy. Smith’s friends and family, relieved by the arrest, are grappling with the revelation of domestic abuse in his relationship. Baker reflects on Tim’s kindness and speculates that it may have stemmed from a lack of love at home, a realization that breaks her heart.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.