Idaho Man Murdered Partner After Learning She Consulted Lawyer About Separation

John Dalton admitted he “snapped” before shooting Tina Swor five times execution-style.

Tina Swor, pictured here, was fatally shot by her husband in August 2021.

A mother of two starting over after a divorce eventually found new love — but through the years, the dream rugged outdoorsman she fell for turned into a monster.

Photo by: Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. (Screenshot from ID's "American Monster")

Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. (Screenshot from ID's "American Monster")

By: Aaron Rasmussen

A mother of two starting over after a divorce eventually found new love — but through the years, the dream rugged outdoorsman she fell for turned into a monster.

In 2007, Tina Swor, then 43, was introduced to 41-year-old John D. Dalton at a local bar in Clarkston, Washington, and the two hit it off.

Swor’s brother, Robert Frosco, recalls Dalton was a macho “mountain man” whose two favorite things in life were hunting and guns. “I honestly though she met the right guy,” he says.

Dalton eventually moved into Swor’s home and the pair were social butterflies, often throwing parties together. While they had plenty of good times, family began to notice Dalton, who earned good money as a construction worker, wasn’t pulling his weight around the house, including with shared expenses.

Even more troubling, Dalton gave Swor little help after she had to undergo surgery for a leaking heart valve, according to Swor’s daughter, Carlie.

After Swor filed for bankruptcy following the failure of her candy store, she and Dalton purchased a plot of land three hours from Clarkston, in Spirit Lake, Idaho, and they built a home there.

Even though Swor contributed to the down payment on the property, Carlie says, “John didn’t want my mom’s name on the deed because he thinks that since he had the money and the job that it was just his house.”

As time passed, the couple began to argue daily about putting her name on the house, money and other tense topics. Swor, according to a friend, complained Dalton was “moody” and “drinking too much.”

“I was very worried about my mom when she lived in Spirit Lake, especially when I’d get calls of how they’re in an argument or he’s fighting with her,” Carlie says. “I was scared; I was starting getting anxiety just thinking that something was going to happen.”

Carlie’s worst fears came true in 2021.

On Aug. 16 that year, a concerned neighbor phoned emergency dispatchers to report she hadn’t seen Swor and Dalton for two days, an absence she said was “very unusual.”

According to Kootenai County Deputy Prosecutor Stanley Mortensen, responding deputies found nothing out of the ordinary at the couple’s home — until they made their way into the master bedroom.

The room was in disarray, with bloodstains and blood spatter on the walls and Swor’s body on the floor. “This scene was very gruesome and grisly,” Mortensen says.

Investigators determined Swor had been shot at close range, indicating it was a “very emotional and angry person who had conducted this murder,” Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office Det. Jerrie Northrup notes.

Dalton and his truck were both missing, and police could not locate a murder weapon at the scene.

Using security camera footage and witness testimony, detectives identified Dalton as a suspect in Swor’s murder and they launched a search for him.

Two days later, on Aug. 18, a bank teller in St. Maries, Idaho, phoned the local sheriff’s office after seeing a flier about Dalton and then spotting him. Local authorities located the suspect and took him into custody.

Video of a police interrogation shows Dalton immediately began to reveal his role in his partner’s death. In the footage, a detective tells Dalton they learned that two days before Swor was found dead, she “was flirting with someone” at a local bar.

Dalton responds that Swor was just a friendly person, but he then admits that an argument was sparked between the two because there were “some other things that came out” that night, including Swor warning she had plans to mess with him financially.

“Mr. Dalton indicated that he believed that Tina was going to leave him, and that she was going to take a significant portion of his money, or half the house, or go after his social security, and this caused him some real concern,” Det. Jerrie Northrup says.

In the police video, Dalton claims he and Swor then “got in a fight” over a gun and he backhanded her in the mouth.

Dalton admits he “snapped” and shot Swor more than once after he grabbed the firearm, the video shows. “I know the evidence looks very horrific towards me, but I wasn’t the aggressor in the whole thing,” Dalton alleges.

Police later recovered the murder weapon in a motel room Dalton rented following the deadly shooting.

“This wasn’t a normal killing; this was an execution,” Deputy Prosecutor Mortensen says, explaining, “Tina was shot five times in the back of her head.”

Dalton was charged with first-degree murder, but he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of second-degree murder in March 2022.

He was sentenced to life in prison and will be eligible for parole after serving 20 years.

Swor’s daughter says she misses the positive words her mother always had for her. “I just wish I could call her,” Carlie says. “I would just tell her how much I miss her, and I wish she was still here.”

For more on this case, stream American Monster: "If Only He Had a Heart" on Max.

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