A McAlester man faces charges for allegedly crushing and burying a vehicle involved in a Nov. 20 fatal hit-and-run and investigators seek help in identifying a person of interest tied to the incident.
Ronald Timothy Swearengin, 48, was charged Nov. 30 with felony accessory to felony and misdemeanor destroying evidence, according to documents filed by District 18 First Assistant District Attorney Adam Scharn.
Swearengin was arrested Friday by the Savanna Police Department at a convenience store in Savanna at the same time the funeral of the man who was killed in the Nov. 20 collision – 34-year-old Curtis Wayne Johnson, of Lancaster, Texas – was ongoing in Texas, according to OHP.
The felony charge alleges Swearengin “unlawfully, willfully, intentionally, and feloniously” crushed and buried a white 2000 Plymouth Voyager on a property in McAlester “in an attempt to hide said van from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol” because the van was evidence in the case of State of Oklahoma versus Antonia Beall.
OHP Public Information Officer Sarah Stewart told the News-Capital on Saturday that Swearengin denied any involvement in the destruction and burying of the van to investigators.
On Monday, the OHP asked for the public’s help in identifying a person of interest from a surveillance video who was reportedly with Swearengin the night he allegedly destroyed and buried the van on a property in McAlester.
The van was allegedly driven by Beall, who was arrested Wednesday on outstanding warrants by members of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force and OHP Troopers. The woman was charged Friday with first-degree manslaughter and felony leaving scene of fatality accident, court documents state.
Investigators allege Beall was under the influence of an intoxicating substance when she allegedly struck and killed 34-year-old Curtis Wayne Johnson, of Lancaster, Texas, on Nov. 20 just south of McAlester before leaving the scene.
A Nov. 24 social media post asking for help from the public by the OHP led to investigators identifying Beall as the driver of the van.
According to an affidavit filed in the case against Beall, investigators recovered a photo sent by Swearengin to a family member of Beall. The family member told investigators that Swearengin told her that he “disposed of the van in an unknown way” after receiving the photo, the affidavit states.
OHP Trooper Tim Baker wrote in his report that the photo showed a van matching the description of the van Beall was allegedly driving with windshield damage on the right side, the side which would have struck Johnson.
Swearengin admitted to investigators that he took the photo, but that he found the van at Beall’s residence “vandalized” with a propane tank through the windshield, the report states.
According to the affidavit, investigators also recovered text messages between Swearengin and Beall that indicated Beall was going to meet Swearengin at a motel near where the fatal collision occurred.
In the affidavit against Swearengin, further investigation of Swearengin’s phone revealed a conversation with an individual that “suggested” to investigators that the van was somewhere on the property of a business in McAlester, the affidavit states.
Baker wrote in the report the owner of the business confirmed to investigators that Swearengin was an employee of his and showed where the man had clocked in from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day – a day that the business was closed – without his permission.
A review of the business’ surveillance video showed Swearengin and an unidentified man on the premises around midnight Nov. 23, Baker wrote in the affidavit.
Employees of the business told investigators Swearengin was seen on an excavator moving debris on part of the property, the report states. Baker noted in his report the area was found to have fresh equipment tracks and freshly turned dirt.
Investigators were granted permission to search the area and excavation equipment from the city of McAlester was brought in to eunearth the van.
According to the affidavit, Swearengin “abruptly departed” the business when investigators arrived and did not notify his employer he was leaving work.
Investigators located a piece of white metal several feet down that was identified as a piece of a vehicle door frame. The affidavit states further excavation led to the van – which was crushed and found upside down – being unearthed.
Baker wrote in his report the vehicle identification number of the unearthed van matched the one investigators linked to Beall.
The OHP asks for anyone that can identify the person of interest or with additional information in the case to contact OHP Troop D Headquarters at 918-423-3636.
Contact Derrick James at firstname.lastname@example.org