Parents of slain teenager want case reopened |

Parents of slain teenager want case reopened

William Ferchland
Nevada Appeal News Service

Fed up with the lack of progress in their son’s 26-year-old murder case, Ron and Sharon Swanson drove from Sonora to their former hometown to voice displeasure at the South Lake Tahoe City Council.

The Swansons complained of a sluggish or even nonexistent investigation into the August 1980 murder of their son, Richard Swanson.

“For the past 26 years, we have waited for a proper and thorough investigation into the robberies and murder of our son,” said Ron Swanson, reading a prepared statement to the council. “There is evidence and there is a suspect. Nothing is being done. All we receive are excuses, lies and empty promises. It is time to properly investigate this horrendous crime. We will no longer be silent victims.”

The joyful mood of a retirement ceremony for city Parks Superintendent Steve Weiss before Swanson spoke evaporated as the parent unleashed his heartache and frustration.

South Lake Tahoe Police Chief Terry Daniels spoke to the parents outside of council chambers. Sharon Swanson said his words were: “Give me 30 days.”

In August 1980, Richard Swanson was working at the Shell Gas Station at the “Y,” his parents said. On Aug. 13, he left his parent’s house in Meyers for a graveyard shift at the gas station.

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“We did worry about him working nights but it was a temporary thing,” Ron said.

At 6:35 a.m., Richard’s body was found, gagged and beaten. An autopsy determined he had suffocated. Ron said his son worked in an enclosure, but would step out of the cage to help elderly people coming into the station.

Reward money for information into Richard’s murder grew and transformed into the Secret Witness fund for South Lake Tahoe.

“We started the Secret Witness program up here, and I wish we could have paid out a reward for my son’s case,” Ron said.

Ron, a retired California Highway Patrol officer and Tuolumne County sheriff’s deputy, says although he won’t identify evidence in his son’s murder, he believes there are pieces that can be DNA tested to maybe break the case.

Police Lt. Marty Hale said the department will reexamine the case and see if any progress can be made.

“It is a priority, and we plan on moving on it and hopefully uncover anything we can,” Hale said, adding if evidence can be examined it likely will be sent to the Department of Justice or the FBI lab.

Daniels said his department is short-staffed, so in addition to having three officers in training, he needs more before he can move a patrol officer into a detective post.

In requesting the investigation be reopened, the Swansons are offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest or conviction of those responsible.