wenatchee cold case

Stephen E. Smith of Cashmere (left) disappeared in July 1982. On Friday, Bernard Swaim (right) was arrested on murder charges in Smith's presumed death. (Photos provided)

WENATCHEE — A 60-year-old Sultan man has been arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder in what had been an unsolved 1982 missing person’s case.

Bernard Swaim, 60, was arrested Friday and booked into the Chelan County Regional Justice Center in connection with the death of Stephen E. Smith of Cashmere, who disappeared in 1982, according to the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office.

Smith was 30 years old when he was reported missing by family members on July 18, 1982. His car, a 1966 Pontiac Tempest, was found abandoned several days later on Dead Man’s Hill road near Dryden.

He had last been seen on July 12.

Smith was never located and the unsolved case was closed in 1982.

In late 2016, Smith’s cold case was assigned to Detective Josh Mathena.

“We didn’t have any new information,” Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett said. “I don’t know if his case load was light or what when he picked it up, but he started digging into it and started gaining some speed.”

Through interviews with multiple people, including Smith’s family and witnesses, detectives identified Swaim as a person of interest in Smith’s disappearance. Swaim and Smith apparently had been married to the same woman, Burnett said.


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“This person led to that person and the detectives started building the case,” Burnett said, until enough was gathered to make an arrest.

Burnett did not say whether Smith’s body has been found. More information is expected to be released on Monday.