Year in review: Killing of naked woman sparks probe
TBO.comSPRING HILL - Perhaps the most unusual story of the year came in October when two off-duty police officers shot and killed a naked woman who had been walking down the street of a Spring Hill neighborhood.
Published: December 26, 2012
Published: December 26, 2012
The incident made the No. 9 spot in the year's top stories:
William Mechler had been a Tampa police officer only four weeks when he was placed on administrative leave following a bizarre incident Saturday, Oct. 20.
That was when a naked woman was shot dead after a run-in with him and another off-duty officer at a party, police said.
Inga Marie Swanson, 42, was wearing no clothing, and acting irrationally when she walked uninvited into a party at 9070 Orchard Parkway in Spring Hill, deputies said.
She was asked to leave, sparking a confrontation, but eventually left the property. Swanson returned soon after, this time with a gun, deputies said.
Mechler, 26, and Hernando sheriff's Detective Rocky Howard, 31, felt their lives were in danger, deputies said.
Both fired at Swanson and killed her, according to Hernando sheriff's Lt. Cinda Moore.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated the shooting and, on Dec. 19, the state attorney's office absolved both off-duty officers of wrongdoing.
Robert Collins of Hudson said he saw Swanson three times in a 40-minute span on the day she was killed.
Collins, 50, was driving on Suncoast Boulevard near Orchard Way in Spring Hill with a friend who wanted to buy property. He was the first one to spot Swanson, who was walking on the dirt road naked.
Collins, who was once a security guard at the Caliente Tampa nudist resort in Land O' Lakes, said the woman's absence of clothing didn't faze him but he was worried about her. So he pulled his car over and asked if she needed help.
"I'm a little bit confused," he quoted Swanson as saying.
Collins asked her if she lived nearby, but Swanson walked away, up the driveway of a house down the road, he said.
Twenty minutes later, Collins saw her again. She was standing on the side of the road and shouted, "Yes, I am an American," and wandered off, Collins said.
The third and last time Collins saw her was when he was in a mobile home his friend wanted to buy. Swanson went right up to the door, brandishing a 10-inch long metal crucifix.
She held it over her head and said, "This is the Antichrist. Let's wrap this up."
About an hour later, Collins said he noticed yellow crime scene tape and police cars blocking Suncoast Boulevard, just east of Orchard Parkway.
"I was wondering if that had anything to do with the young lady," he said.
He found out hours later, after watching the news.
"The thing that bothered me at the time was that it took two trained officers to subdue a naked woman?" Collins said.
Collins, a former law enforcement officer in New York, said he understood why Mechler and Howard would draw their weapons if Swanson had a gun.
"You have a split second to make a decision," Collins said. "I feel bad for the young lady, as well as the officers. They have to live with that for the rest of their lives."