Family finds some closure after missing man's remains identified

BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - After spending two years searching, Joe Swinton's family says they finally have some closure. The Berkeley County Coroner's Office identified the remains found in St. Stephen last month as those of 47-year-old Swinton. He was reported missing on Jan. 19, 2010.

On Jan. 18, a man was collecting cans in the woods off Platt Road in Berkeley County and found a human skull and remains. Swinton's family says they still have many unanswered questions about his death.

"Every day we were thinking he was going to show up," said Swinton's cousin Lucretia Varner.

For two years Varner has left her porch light on every night, a symbol she says was to let her cousin know that his family is waiting for him to come home.

Swinton had been missing for over two years until Tuesday morning. Any hope his family had left of him returning home vanished when the Berkeley County coroner came knocking on their door.

"They showed up and they said that the remains that they found was my brother Joe," said Shirley Swinton, Joe Swinton's sister.

Swinton was last seen by his family sitting on this porch. His truck was found on Platt Road a few days later and then his remains were found last month only 300 yards from that spot.

Swinton's sister says law enforcement should have done more to find him sooner.

"They claimed they searched and everything," said Shirley Swinton. "All over the place, but they didn't do their job like they should have done. The job wasn't done like it supposed to be. They should have went back out there and searched."

Swinton's mother was buried the day Swinton's remains were found. While his sister says she is thankful they have answers, she wishes her mother could have the same kind of closure.

"She talked about it every time she had the chance to talk about it," Shirley Swinton said. "She always talked about it."

The family says they have no clue what could have happened to Swinton. The coroner says he doesn't expect foul play, but hasn't ruled it out.

"He will always be in my mind," Varner said. "He will always be with us. Everything that I do will be in remembrance of my first cousin."

The coroner says it's still unclear how Swinton died.

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