Chace Swatek's mother said in a telephone conversation with Legal Schnauzer that the family knows what caused the Alabama lawyer's death. She also said her son had been seriously ill from back surgery in the weeks leading up to his death.
Those statements from Lana Daniel Swatek contradict those from Pelham Police Cpt. Larry Palmer, who told us that family members had no idea what caused Chace Swatek's death, and they told investigators that Mr. Swatek had no known health problems.
I contacted Lana Swatek a few weeks back to give her an opportunity to respond to reports that evidence at the scene pointed to inhalant abuse, commonly known as "huffing," as the likely cause of Chace Swatek's death. Mrs. Swatek denied that huffing was a factor.
From a conversation between Lana Daniel Swatek (LDS) and me (LS):
LDS: I know how my son died; it was not inhalant abuse.
LS: OK, can you share what it was? As you know, his body was found in a public place . . .
LDS: My son died right behind his own home; he walked that route with his dogs all the time. I don't know who you are, and I don't know why you are calling me, but I am about to call my husband. What is your name?
LS: It's Roger Shuler, I'm a journalist . . . I write at a blog and a number of national Web sites.
LDS: Are you the horrible, despicable man who is trying to destroy my family? Is that who you are?
LS: I'm just calling to give you an opportunity to comment on an article that I'm preparing to write, based on a source's report.
LDS: You know what, you had better be very, very careful . . . be very careful.
LS: Well, that's why I'm calling you. I am being careful
LDS: Yeah, you'd better be careful.
More from the conversation:
LS: You do know then what caused your son's death?
LDS: I'm his mother, of course I do--and it's none of your business. It certainly doesn't involve anything to do with whatever you're saying. My son was sick with a broken back, sir. He had a severely broken back, and he was very, very ill with it. He had a hard, hard time.
LS: He died from the repercussions of a broken back?
LDS: Yes, that's exactly how Chace died, but it's really none of your business. And you have no idea of the torment . . . the torment . . . I can tell that you are the most evil man that I've ever heard of in my life.
LS: Well, I'm giving you an opportunity to comment for an article. If you want to comment, you can. If not . . . I know this is an unpleasant topic.
LDS: I've already made my comment, and I'm going to call my husband. You be very, very careful . . .
LS: The Pelham Police Department told me that the family had no idea how he died.
LDS: That is not true at all . . . I've just warned you, you write one more thing . . . don't you write anything about my family ever again . . . ever again.
Here is a video based on my conversation with Lana Daniel Swatek: