David Swinehart Murder: Where Are Jeffrey DeBlase and Thomas DeBlase Now?

Image Credit: The Mercury

Investigation Discovery’s ‘Deadly Affairs: Betrayed By Love: Skinny Dipping in the Gene Pool’ follows two murders, one of which is the brutal slaying of 45-year-old real estate magnate David Swinehart in January 1982. It took more than three years for the investigators to catch a breakthrough and another decade before all the perpetrators were brought to justice. 

How Did David Swinehart Die?

David Swinehart was born in January 1938 in Pottstown in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. In 1973, the 35-year-old real estate tycoon was worth a hefty $20 million. Along with his wife, Patricia Swinehart, David enjoyed the social status that accompanied their wealth and moved among affluent, elite circles. The pair reportedly dressed in expensive clothes and owned luxury cars. It seemed the newlyweds were having the time of their life until tragedy struck more than a decade later.

Image Credit: The Mercury

On January 19, 1982, police officers found a body in an abandoned car in a dirty alley in Pottstown and identified it as that of 45-year-old David. They found the frozen corpse in the backseat of the car, behind an apartment complex he had built. The savagery of the slaying indicated it was much more than a random crime. Blood spatter made it clear that David was attacked elsewhere, and his corpse was put in the car later.

The investigators said it made little sense that any burglar would take so much risk and asserted they were sure the crime was personal. According to police reports, David had been bludgeoned and stabbed to death. His autopsy report revealed that he had been struck in the head multiple times, at least seven times, with a blunt weapon and stabbed a minimum of 14 times in the buttocks and back.

Who Killed David Swinehart?

After discovering the body, the authorities decided to track David’s movements before his death, hoping it would lead them to the perpetrator/s. They quickly found out he was last seen outside his wife Patricia’s residence on the evening of January 15, 1982. They also discovered that after a decade of their marriage, David and Patricia were going through a messy divorce, with both sides fighting over finances and accusing each other of having extramarital affairs. 

Jeffrey DeBlase

According to the show, David was a workaholic who put his business before his family, which started a toll on their decade-old marriage. By January 1981, he allegedly started seeing another woman named Sarah Sky. The Montgomery County Commissioner at the time, Bruce Castor, said, “There were allegations of infidelity and rumors flying around for a while.” Crime historian Joan Raner stated the relationship between David and his wife was so strained that David decided to move out of the house. Bruce added, “David went to live with his girlfriend, leaving his wife at home with the children.”

However, David vowed to keep up the appearance of a happy family for the sake of his children. According to a family friend, Hon. William Yohn Jr., David continued to come over for dinner every day to see the kids, and it seemed the separation between Patricia and her husband was civil. With David out of the picture, she, then 39, was desperate for attention and found it in then-23-year-old Thomas DeBlase, her nephew by marriage. A former Pottstown High School quarterback, Thomas was the son of David’s sister and served as a construction worker. 

Patricia Swinehart

According to the show, David was ready to file a divorce six months into the separation but wanted a trump card up his sleeve during the settlement negotiations. Joan said, “Because the divorce was going to be so costly for him, David required leverage.” Wanting to confirm Patricia was also having an affair, he bugged the residence telephone to tape call records and quickly found out about the relationship between Patricia and Thomas.

In October 1981, Patricia filed for divorce and allegedly wanted a considerable portion of his former husband’s wealth. But the real estate developer dropped a bombshell when he disclosed he was broke with his company in massive debt. When the investigators went to Patricia’s residence, they noticed a bloody spot in the snow outside the home. However, with limited development of forensic technology and DNA analysis yet to be developed, the officers had no way of connecting the blood stain to David’s killing.

With no other physical evidence, the case went cold, along with Patricia’s relationship with Thomas. Three years later, the case was reopened when an ex-felon named Arthur Hall opened his mouth regarding the killing of David. He became the government’s chief witness. Based on his testimony, the police arrested all the other suspects — David’s nephews, Thomas and his brother, Jeffrey DeBlase, his wife, Patricia, and another burglar named Terry Lee Maute.

Jeffrey DeBlase and Thomas DeBlase Are in Jail Today

The prosecution alleged the motive behind the murder was to get their hands on David’s hefty life insurance amounting to $523,000 and allow Patricia and Thomas to carry on their endeavors. Jeffrey DeBlase was convicted in 1985 of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. His brother, Thomas, met the same fate on February 2, 1996, with his ex-lover, Patricia, asked to take the stand against him. Patricia was arrested on July 28, 1993, more than 11 years after David’s murder, but was acquitted of all murder charges in February 1994.

Thomas DeBlase

The two hitmen, Terry and Arthur, received lesser sentences for cooperating with the authorities. Terry was acquitted of murder charges in 1985 but faced a 20 to 64-year prison term on unrelated forgery and theft charges. Arthur pleaded guilty to robbery in connection with the homicide and was sentenced to a 29 to 59-month county jail term. According to official court records, Jeffrey, now 65, is serving his sentence at the State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon. His brother, Thomas, now 64, is incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy in Pennsylvania.

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