Four witnesses who saw the shooter at Rising Daughter Baptist Church each created a sketch of the suspect. Elements of each identification were later combined by another artist into one single composite sketch, seen at right. (GBI)
Photo: GBI
Photo: GBI

A timeline of the ‘Rising Daughter’ case

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.

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