Murder or accident? Shelley Tyre's fatal dive
David Swain's daughter, Jen Bloom, says, "Diving is a beautiful sport that is inherently dangerous. …and accidents happen."
Was Shelley Tyre's death a horrible accident? A mystery?
"I don't have the answers," David replied.
David says his inability to explain Shelley Tyre's death led her parents to assume the worst: that he murdered their daughter.
"How did that make you feel, knowing that your in-laws thought you had killed their daughter?" Roberts asked.
"Sad. I mean, it made me sad," David replied.
"They didn't know diving."
One year after Shelley's death, the Tyres hired an attorney and sent him and his team of experts to Tortola in search of the answers David didn't have.
Over the course of several months, the team uncovered evidence they believe proves David was lying. "48 Hours" asked a leading expert in underwater investigations to examine their findings.
Sergeant Jeff Morgan, with the San Bernardino County, Calif., Sheriff's Department, offered to sift through case documents provided by "48 Hours."
"After reviewing all the facts of this case, this was much, much more than just a simple scuba diving accident," said Sgt. Morgan.
Morgan also attempted to replicate, underwater, key parts of Shelley and David's fatal dive. What first troubled him about the case was the short amount of time David performed CPR on Shelley.
"Typically, you don't stop CPR until, as a rescuer, you can no longer perform it, til you're exhausted," Morgan explained.
When Roberts asks David Swain how long he performed CPR on Shelley, he replies, "That's the big, magic question. Minutes. Was it 5 minutes, was it 10 minutes? Was it 4 minutes? I don't know. It was minutes."
Morgan points out, "David was very emphatic that 'she's gone' or 'she's dead.' …I don't think that's the appropriate response. I don't think that you can declare a person dead in that short of a time span."
Next, David made a distress call. Dive boat captain Keith Royle was the first on the scene. But again, David, a trained EMT, insisted that no extraordinary measures be taken.
"When I offered my help he stated he was a paramedic. He'd seen dead bodies before. The woman was dead, there was no need to do further CPR," Royle told Roberts.
Royle says he was surprised by the response. "When I pulled up along side him, I would have certainly expected him to want somebody to help."
Jen Bloom says her father's priority was getting Shelley back to shore and protecting her dignity in death.
"It was over," she explained in tears, "and he didn't want to sit there and watch someone beat on her and try and get her heart started."
David told Roberts, "There was nothing left to do. Nothing. If you are performing CPR on somebody that is responsive, sure. I would've gone until hell froze over. But she was not responding to anything."
But it wasn't just David's behavior that afternoon that raised red flags. Tortolan police discovered Shelley's equipment was damaged. Police didn't make much of it, but the expert hired by her family's attorney did.
Engineer Bill Oliver designs scuba gear.
"What was unusual about Shelley's mask is the strap was broken from the side of the mask," Oliver demonstrated. "And where this pin [here] is intact on this mask, it was missing from hers."
Shelley's snorkel, attached to the same side of the mask as the broken pin, was also missing its mouthpiece.
"My belief is something pulled the mask off of her face and I can see a scenario where she resisted that," Oliver explained. "She held onto the mask. And in the tug of war, some things gave."
And then there was Shelley's fin. "The heel strap was pulled down over the sole plate of the fin," Oliver continues. "The strap was adjusted very tightly, so to pull it over the heel strap - it took some force to get it over."
It is force that Oliver says Shelley could not have applied herself. "The bottom line is somebody intervened besides Shelley Tyre with this equipment to get it in that condition."
Sergeant Jeff Morgan agrees. "Shelley didn't die in an accident," he said. "She was murdered."
What's more, Morgan says only one person could have been responsible.
"In all reality, there was nobody else in the water at the time of Shelley's death but David Swain," he said.
Morgan, who replicated, underwater, key parts of Shelley and David's last dive, shares his findings:
"I think that David swam up behind her and shut off the air supply … held onto her until she was struggling, reached up and grabbed the mask. Ripped the mask from her face, and held onto her until she stopped struggling…
"Shelley, if she did panic in this situation, panicked after her air supply was shut off. And, again, the only person that could have possibly shut it off was David," he said.
Roberts asks David, "Did you kill Shelley Tyre?"
"Did not, would not, could not," he replies. "This thought, this craziness that I would do something like that to Shelley is just so revolting.
But the Tyres insist David had a motive. Right before the trip to Tortola, Shelley decided to change jobs and take a substantial cut in pay.
"The dive shop that David had was very much supported by Shelley's income," Morgan noted. "If Shelley was going to take a pay cut, his business may not survive."
According to Sgt. Morgan, that, along with the couple's prenuptial agreement, meant Shelley was worth more to David dead than alive.
"That provides for a motive to commit murder," he said.
"Everybody keeps thinking that I'm doing all this for money," David explained. "I'm just as happy being flat broke as I am when I'm fat and rich. Probably happier flat broke. Less hassle."
The Tyres weren't buying it. They were now convinced David murdered their daughter. But authorities in Tortola still refused to rule Shelley's death a homicide. So in 2006, they sued David in a Rhode Island civil court for wrongful death.
In a videotaped deposition, David testifies he and Shelley swam together for 10 to 15 minutes before they separated.
"I have a vague recollection of circumnavigating the wrecks, poking around the wrecks, and seeing Shelley still interested in looking at something there and that's the last time I saw her as I swam off toward the reef," David told investigators.
But the Tyres' attorney tried to prove David was with Shelley when she drowned. Based on the air left in Shelley's tank, he calculates she stopped breathing just 8 minutes into her dive.
"She battled for her life at the point and place and time exactly when he was with her. She was burning her air right up to the point where he shut it off," the Tyres' attorney told the court.
He then shows the jury a videotaped demonstration that he and his team prepared illustrating their theory of how David Swain swam up behind Shelley, turned off her air and killed her.
In less than three hours, the jury finds David Swain responsible for Shelley's death and awards Lisa and Richard Tyre $3.5 million. The Tyres say this has never been about the money.
"Money has nothing to do with it. Nothing. It's we just want Shelley," Richard Tyre told reporters outside court following the verdict.
Armed with a civil court attorney, the Tyres' attorney convinced Tortolan authorities to reopen their investigation. A year-and-a-half later, island prosecutors charged David Swain with the murder of his wife. David did not fight extradition and wound up in a Tortolan jail.
With his trial now looming, his children, Jen and Jeremy, will travel to the island to help prove their father is innocent. But before they can do that, their father will first have to explain another woman.
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