A Florida man who launched an online fundraiser soon after his husband’s murder more than four months ago is now “considered a suspect,” authorities said Wednesday.
Timothy Smith, 59, was found dead on March 25 during a wellness check a day after he failed to show up to work, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office previously said. At the time, officials said Smith was the victim of a “violent attack.”
Just days later, his spouse Herbert Swilley created a GoFundMe, citing the “tragic loss for everyone, family and friends.” The site raised over $2,200 to cover funeral expenses and a celebration of life.
But on Wednesday, the sheriff’s office said that Swilley is now “considered a suspect in Timothy’s murder” and Swilley’s daughter is a person of interest.
“Detectives spoke with Mr. Swilley at the earliest stages of the investigation, and they have been trying to speak with him again, but his attorney has indicated that he will only cooperate if he is provided with immunity from prosecution for Timothy’s murder,” the sheriff’s office wrote. “Jordan Swilley, Herbert’s daughter, is considered a person of interest. She, too, gave a preliminary statement but has declined to speak to detectives further.”
On Wednesday, the sheriff’s office said that an increased reward of up to $14,500 is now being offered for helpful information about Smith’s murder.
Just one day before, Swilley posted a tribute to his “very loving husband” on Facebook, marking what would have been their eighth wedding anniversary.
“I know you are up there looking down on us and taking care of us,” he wrote. “You will always be in my heart and thoughts.”
Authorities had previously not named any suspects or a possible motive in the murder. At the time of his death, Smith “appeared to have suffered a violent attack” and the murder appeared to be targeted, officials said at the time.
“What we have learned so far now leads us to believe that it was committed by somebody who the victim knew,” Sheriff Billy Woods said.
On Wednesday, the sheriff’s office said that because Swilley is unwilling to speak with detectives, authorities are urging people to come forward with information in order to solve the case.
“This could include information regarding Timothy’s activities in the days and weeks leading up to his death, or information about Timothy and Herbert’s relationship,” the sheriff’s office wrote.
Authorities are asking anyone with information to please call Detective Daniel Pinder at (352) 368-3508 or the Marion County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency number of (352) 732-9111. To remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers of Marion County at (352) 368-STOP (7867) and reference 23-21 in your tip.