Commercial-News & Penny Saver

Suspect in Swartz murder found dead in South Carolina jail

Photo via Beaufort County (S.C.) Detention Center
53-year-old Robert Waters, a resident of Beaufort, S.C., was arrested Sunday by police in the 1988 death of Cathy Swartz in Three Rivers.

By Robert Tomlinson
News Director

BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. — The man arrested Sunday in connection with the 1988 murder of Cathy Swartz in Three Rivers was found dead in his South Carolina jail cell Saturday.

According to the Three Rivers Police Department, Robert Odell Waters was found dead at the Beaufort County Detention Center in Beaufort County, S.C. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) was requested to conduct the in-custody death investigation.

The investigation into the death is ongoing, a cause of death has not been determined as of press time, and TRPD is awaiting results from the county’s coroner’s office before making a statement to media later this week.

Waters was arrested in Beaufort County, S.C., Monday on a charge of open murder in Swartz’s death. Swartz, who was 19 at the time, was murdered inside her apartment at Riverside Townhouses on Dec. 2, 1988. Her fiancé at the time found Swartz’s body when he came home from work that day, with Swartz’s then 9-month-old daughter in the next room unharmed. Investigators at the time said Swartz fought her attacker, but she was overcome by stab wounds, a beating and strangulation.

Investigators at the time were able to locate fingerprints, blood and a footprint that was believed to belong to the suspect. After interviews of thousands of people and collecting fingerprints and footprints, according to police, decades went by without a match to the evidence located at the crime scene.

In 2022, through a partnership with Michigan State Police and the Cold Case Project at Western Michigan University, forensic genetic genealogy was utilized to narrow down the suspect pool to one family, and eventually Waters. A search warrant was issued, and police made contact with Waters Sunday night, and enough probable cause was gathered to arrest him.

Waters reportedly waived extradition and was in the process of being transferred to St. Joseph County at the time of his death.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 or

One Reply to “Suspect in Swartz murder found dead in South Carolina jail

  1. Just how bad is law enforcement in Beaufort County, SC? BAD!!! Barney Fife was better prepared.

Leave a Reply