LEAVENWORTH, Wash. — Detectives with the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office on Monday announced the arrest of a 57-year-old Leavenworth woman Friday on suspicion of first-degree murder in connection with a 1982 missing person’s case.
Dawn Soles, also known as Dawn Schober, is the second person arrested in connection with the disappearance of Stephen E. Smith, then 30, of Cashmere.
Detectives also arrested Soles’ ex-husband Bernard Swaim, 60, of Sultan, on Friday on suspicion of first-degree murder.
Before she was married to Swaim, Soles was married to Smith. They have a daughter together, Crystal, who was 2 years old when Smith went missing.
At the time, Smith had full custody of Crystal, and Soles was allowed to visit her one weekend a month under supervision, according to a probable cause affidavit filed Sunday in Chelan County Superior Court. Detectives believe Soles and Swaim conspired to kill Smith to gain custody of Crystal.
Smith was last seen alive in July 1982. His body was never found.
Soles and Swaim appeared before a judge at Chelan County Superior Court Monday afternoon. Bail was set at $1 million for Swaim and $500,000 for Soles. Both are being held at the Chelan County Regional Justice Center.
The case was assigned to Det. Josh Mathena on Jan. 5. Mathena and other officers with the sheriff’s department interviewed several witnesses, including Soles and Swaim, over the next two months before making the arrests.
Soles made conflicting statements to detectives during three interviews, first denying any knowledge or direct involvement in Smith’s disappearance. In the third interview she implicated Swaim and herself, according to the affidavit.
Swaim separately talked with detectives before his arrest and then asked for a lawyer when he was arrested.
The case began on July 18, 1982, when Stephen Smith was reported missing by his sister, Gail Lee. About the same time, a 1966 Pontiac Tempest that Smith was known to drive was found off of Dead Man’s Hill Road near the Dryden landfill.
Deputies checked out the vehicle and found nothing suspicious, Mathena said in the court affidavit that detailed the investigation’s progress over the years.
Smith’s family members were cleaning his home on July 31, 1982, when they reported finding large amounts of blood on a mattress, towel, sofa, an ax handle and a broken tooth.
Investigators sent the tooth to Smith’s dentist in Leavenworth who compared it to X-rays of Smith’s teeth. The dentist determined the tooth belonged to Smith and it was likely broken from his mouth, the affidavit stated.