A timeline of the ‘Rising Daughter’ case

Harold and Thelma Swain are buried in the cemetery next to the church where they were murdered in 1985.
Harold and Thelma Swain are buried in the cemetery next to the church where they were murdered in 1985.

Credit: Tyson Horne

Credit: Tyson Horne

The investigation into the double murder of Harold and Thelma Swain is a story spanning 35 years and counting. Here are some of the key events:

March 11, 1985: Harold and Thelma Swain are killed at Rising Daughter Baptist Church.

March 16, 1985: A huge crowd attends the funeral and burial for the couple at the church.

Late March 1985: Composite sketch of killer is released.

July 15, 1985: An inmate says Donnie Barrentine bragged about killing a black couple in a church.

March 8, 1986: The family of Erik Sparre's ex-wife comes forward with a tape of a man saying he killed the Swains. They say the man is Sparre.

Aug. 1, 1988: An anonymous tipster claims Dennis Perry was angry with Harold Swain.

Nov. 2, 1988: "Unsolved Mysteries" segment on case episode airs.

Summer 1992: Camden County Chief Sheriff's Deputy Butch Kennedy, the agency's longtime lead investigator on the case, leaves the sheriff's office.

July 1, 1998: Dale Bundy is hired by the sheriff's office to work the Swain case.

July 23, 1998: Bundy meets Jane Beaver, who tells him Perry revealed to her weeks before the murders that he planned to kill Harold Swain.

Jan. 13, 2000: Perry is indicted and arrested.

Feb. 14, 2003: Perry is convicted after a four-day trial and given two life sentences.

Spring 2018: The "Undisclosed" podcast begins investigating the case, along with the Georgia Innocence Project, which has been representing Perry for years.

June 10, 2019: Perry's attorneys file a petition arguing for his release, citing new evidence uncovered during production of "Undisclosed."

July 2019: AJC reporter Joshua Sharpe begins looking into the case.

Feb. 24, 2020: After learning of problems Sharpe found with Sparre's alibi, a Georgia Innocence Project investigator obtains hair samples from Sparre's mother for a DNA test to see if Sparre could be linked to hairs found in the hinge of a pair of glasses found near the bodies.

March 24, 2020: The lab results come back.

July 13, 2020: Hearing on Perry’s motion for a new trial

July 17, 2020: Dennis Perry’s convictions are overturned.

July 23, 2020: Dennis Perry is granted a signature bond and released from prison.