U.S. journalist killed during vacation in Belize

Anne Swaney was an Executive Producer in Chicago

(CNN) – Chicago tourist Anne Swaney was found murdered in Belize. The 39-year-old journalist was vacationing at a popular destination for Americans when authorities say they found her dead body in a river.

Benque Viejo Police Superintendent Daniel Arzu said, “We are somewhat distraught, somewhat disappointed and we are carrying out this operation with a great deal of intensity.”

Swaney was a journalist at ABC 7 Chicago. She loved horses. Channel 7 is reporting that Swaney apparently planned to go on a horseback expedition through the woods, but she stayed behind to do yoga.

Authorities say a person of interest is in custody, but they caution he is not a suspect.

On Friday, Swaney’s colleagues at Channel 7 grieved. President and General Manager John Idler said, “The station obviously was hit pretty hard by this news. Stations are families like any workplace. It’s a family and the newsroom is broken up about it, as it should be.”

Swaney was the Executive Producer of the Channel 7’s Digital Operations. Swaney’s colleagues posted this story about her. Digital Operations Director Kevin Carpenter said, “I’ve been a journalist now for almost 30 years and it was the most difficult thing I have ever had to do.”

Swaney mentored countless journalist, including WGN’s Executive Producer Elyse Russo, who recalled a training session on Christmas Day. Russo said, “She worked with me that day and I just remember thinking ‘Wow this is a boss that anyone would be lucky to have.’ All of our hearts at WGN are with our competitors at Channel 7 thinking about them during this time. I can’t even imagine what it would be like.”

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