Another Bowling Alley Murder?
When my team took on this project, we truly didn't expect to come across so many other families that desperately want justice for their loved ones. I am contacted by families from across the United States almost daily.... it's heartbreaking.
After I was contacted by a family in Missouri about their daughter's unsolved murder, I decided to do a dive deep into some research about other cases that might be like Missy's.
This research brought something unexpected: A case that is almost identical to Melissa Witt's abduction and murder: The case of Alana "Laney" Gwinner.
Laney Gwinner disappeared from Gilmore Bowling Lanes in Fairfield Ohio just after 12:30 am on Wednesday Dec. 10, 1997.
Earlier that day she had passed a college exam that guaranteed her an associates degree in business. She had much to celebrate and much to look forward to. Life was good.
At approximately 12:35 am she telephoned her boyfriend who lived less than two miles from the Gilmore Bowling Lanes to say that she was on her way. She never arrived.
Laney, like Melissa, simply disappeared from the parking lot of a bowling alley. No witnesses. No security cameras. Nothing.
The only difference was that Laney's black Honda Del Sol , license tag # AKP-3607, was nowhere to be found and has yet to be located.
Thirty one days later on January 11, 1998, Laney’s body surfaced in the Ohio River near Warsaw Kentucky nearly 60 miles from where she had disappeared. Laney had been suffocated.
Investigators believe that Gwinner was most likely accosted in the bowling alley's parking lot, killed and put in her car, which was then rolled into the Ohio or Miami rivers from a slope or embankment. It is believed that Gwinner most likely rejected the advances of her killer.
Obviously, I can't say that the Witt and Gwinner cases are definitely related, but the similarities in the cases are too numerous to ignore:
1) Young, beautiful women 2) College students 3) Abducted from a bowling alley parking lot 4) Abducted in the month of December 5) Lifeless bodies recovered 50 and 60 miles away from the abduction site in secluded/wooded areas.
If you have kept up with our Facebook page on the Melissa Witt murder, you have already seen that we have shared a great deal of information about the similarities between the Melissa Witt murder and the murder of Melissa Trotter. (Melissa Trotter was murdered by a man named Larry Swearingen. Swearingen was convicted and executed for that murder. Trotter had been missing for weeks before her body was found by hunters in the Sam Houston National Forest on Jan. 2, 1999, with a leg from a pair of pantyhose tied around her throat. Law enforcement had already pegged Swearingen as the main suspect in her disappearance, arresting him on unrelated traffic warrants three days after Trotter had last been seen with him on Dec. 8, 1998. Swearingen had ties to Arkansas, he was familiar with the Mulberry/Turner Bend area, and he was in Arkansas just days before Melissa Witt was murdered.)
It's a well known fact that Swearingen traveled across the United States as an electrician and general construction worker.
I have to take pause and seriously contemplate the thought that maybe, just maybe Larry Swearingen was a serial killer.... sadly, we may never know for sure now that he has been executed.