News producer found dead in Belize was strangled

An autopsy shows that an American news producer found dead while staying in a vacation resort in Belize was strangled.

Anne Swaney died of "asphyxia due to compression of the neck area, throttling and blunt force traumatic injuries to the head and neck," according to the coroner’s report prepared by Dr. Leyden Ken.

Swaney, 39, executive producer of online operations at ABC7 Chicago, was a guest at the Nabitunich resort in the town of Benque Viejo del Carmen when she was reported missing Thursday, according to police.

She was killed in a scenic place, a 400-acre farm close to the jungle and Mayan ruins near the Guatemala border, her station reported late Friday.

Her murder stunned co-workers, who described Swaney as an “avid world traveler.”

She was supposed to go on a horseback riding trip with other members of the resort, according to ABC7. When it was learned that there were more riders than there were horses, Swaney decided to stay back and do yoga on a wooden deck by the riverside.

Benque Viejo Police Superintendent Daniel Arzu said that members of the tour group that Swaney should’ve been part of couldn’t find her when they returned from their excursion.

Swaney’s body was located face down in the river Friday morning, police said. Injuries to her head and bruises around the neck have authorities treating the death as a homicide.

Authorities said Swaney was transported to San Ignacio Hospital in Belize where she was pronounced dead.

According to the ABC affiliate, investigators were questioning a man who was seen fishing near where Swaney’s body was found. However, he was not considered a prime suspect in the murder. Police said the man insisted he was just fishing and has nothing to do with her death.

“She was a light, a source of laughter and smiles, a source of wisdom that’s really one of a kind,” the news station said in a Twitter post.

In May 2015, two Americans were murdered in a drug-related armed robbery. Two Americans were also kidnapped at gunpoint in January 2014 near the Guatemala border.

There was no nationwide tourist advisory for Belize, but those who visit the country are encouraged to be careful due to the increased crime rate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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