Even before he went missing, Paul Swenson’s family and friends were concerned about his state of mind.
When his body was found 17 days later, they wondered if it confirmed Paul’s own statements about his death.
As Fox 13 reports, the dad from American Fork, Utah, had shown signs of mental issues for months before his disappearance. According to a police report, Paul’s brother told investigators that Paul was “mentally unstable,” while wife Ashlee said that Paul’s behavior had changed in the past six months.
In the video below, Ashlee told Fox 13:
“He wasn’t really diagnosed with anything, but I know that day that he went missing something was definitely off.”
One of the indications of Paul’s state of mind came from his repeated insistence that he was going to die at 2:22 p.m. on July 27. When that didn’t happen, his wife was relieved that Paul was going to see his therapist that afternoon to discuss it. She told Fox 13:
“I thought, you know, it was a great thing he was going to go talk to him and hopefully, you know, whatever he was going through he would talk about it.”
But Paul never made it to his appointment. Instead, he walked out the door and disappeared.
His car was later found abandoned with a backpack and phone that didn’t belong to him. Police later discovered that Paul traded his BMW for a bike. Sgt. Josh Christensen of the American Fork Police Department told Fox 13:
“The story we had received from two separate juveniles was that Paul had pulled up into a gas station where they were at and told them he wanted to trade his car for their bike.”
During the time when Paul was missing, his family and friends launched a massive search for him. Tips and sightings came in from as far away as Texas and Washington. Some speculated that Paul had run away from gambling debts or been involved in a robbery. Ashlee told Fox 13 that she did her best to ignore the rumors:
“You have to deal with people being mean when you’ve lost your husband or he’s missing.”
The varied sightings made it hard for investigators to determine what happened to Paul and when. Seventeen days after his disappearance, Paul’s body was discovered in a creek in South Salt Lake City. The father had drowned and had THC in his system. An autopsy found no evidence of foul play.
Now, police believe Paul may have been alive up to a week after his disappearance. Christensen told Fox 13:
“We have to take everyone completely serious. But that’s what made this case so difficult, we didn’t ever, at any given time, have any solid yes, this was him or yes, this is where he’s at.”
However, Ashlee says that she and her family believe that Paul’s focus on July 27 as his last day on Earth was prophetic. She told Fox 13 that they believe Paul died on the same day he disappeared. She added that though they were heartbroken to lose Paul, the family is grateful to have some resolution:
“I feel very blessed we found Paul because there’s a lot of people that don’t find their people. It is a blessing that we found him and that there was some sort of peace around that and we’re not still looking.”
Christensen concedes that Paul’s fixation on July 27 may have played a role in what happened next, even though Paul didn’t die at the time he’d predicted. The officer told Fox 13:
“Whatever he thought was going to happen, if it didn’t happen, then what was he going to do to force that?”