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Questions continue in murder of elderly Clearwater couple

CLEARWATER — Questions surrounding the suspected double murder of an elderly couple mounted Monday as new details emerged about the seemingly quiet life they lived.

Mina Swan, 80, worked as an art teacher at Clearwater High for 16 years before retiring in 1999, according to the Pinellas County School District. David Swan, 88, is a retired accountant, neighbor Bob Anderson said. They had lived in the house at 1033 Flushing Ave. for years.

"It's tragic," Anderson said, starting to cry. "They were very good people."

A neighbor and relative found the couple dead in their home Saturday afternoon, Anderson said. On Monday morning, yellow police tape still surrounded the couple's house and several more next door and across the street. Clearwater police cars, marked and unmarked, lined the road in The Meadows, a quiet, deed-restricted community south of Druid Road. At the couple's ranch-style home, the porch lights were still illuminated on either side of the front door.

The act doesn't appear to be random, according to police. The agency didn't release any more information, including how the couple died, how long they had been dead before they were discovered and whether there are leads on potential suspects. Detectives ask that anyone with information contact the department at (727) 562-4242.

Anderson, 87, said Monday that his wife went by their house Friday to drop off some pamphlets. No one answered. She noticed their newspaper hadn't been picked up. One of his neighbors noticed, too, and called Mina Swan's children.

They entered the house Saturday, Anderson said, "and that's when everything broke loose."

Family members for the Swans, who, records show, married in 1999, could not be reached for comment.

Mina Swan had lived in the house for 40 years, Anderson said, and David Swan moved in after her first husband died. Both had children from prior relationships. They loved to travel, Anderson said, and were interested in astronomy.

He used to see them walking their dog, Benji, before the pup died a couple of years ago. Sometimes, the couple would host New Year's Eve parties for the neighborhood.

Sue Castleman, the school district's preK-12 visual arts specialist, said Mina Swan, who had the last name Wolf at the time, worked as an intern under her when she was an art teacher at an elementary school. Later, as the only art teacher at Clearwater High, she was well-versed in mediums from sculpture to ceramics to painting. Castleman said she didn't know if Swan was an artist herself, "but she could have been."

They lost touch after Swan, who started teaching late in life, retired, Castleman said. But she still remembers how happy she was as a teacher.

"She was always so caring and so positive," Castleman said, "and she really, really had the students' best interest in mind."

Contact Kathryn Varn at (727) 893-8913 or kvarn@tampabay.com. Follow @kathrynvarn.

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