While Pinole police say they’ve solved the 1988 disappearance of 7-year-old Amber Swartz, the girl’s mother tells KRON 4 that she’s not certain about the announcement.
At a press conference Monday morning, Pinole Police Chief Paul Clancy said Curtis Dean Anderson confessed in 2007 to the abduction and murder of Amber.
Shortly after the confession, Anderson died of natural causes while serving a 300-year prison sentence for kidnapping and sexually assaulting two other young girls, one of whom he later admitted to murdering.
In an interview with KRON 4’s Catherine Heenan, Amber’s mother Kim Swartz said she and her family did not feel relief upon hearing the news, “No, not really, no. It’s pretty much the same in the way I feel and the way Amber’s brothers feel. We’ve had many people say things about what they’ve done with her, what they’re doing with her, that they have her now; a variety of different stories. And the only difference is that Curtis Dean Anderson is dead. And they can no longer go back and talk to him, polygraph him. We’re basically taking the word of a child murderer.”
At the close of the news conference, police distributed copies of Anderson’s brief handwritten statement that read, “If there is no pursuit of the death penalty, I will freely admit my role in being responsible for the death of Amber Swartz-Garcia.”
Clancy says Anderson told authorities he was driving to Arizona and abducted Amber for company. He reportedly opened his car door and pulled the girl in while she was jumping rope outside her home in Pinole.
According to the police chief, Anderson told investigators he kept Amber sedated by giving her root beer schnapps and killed her at a motel room in the Tucson area before disposing of her body in the desert.
Kim says she is not completely certain that police have the right person pegged, “I don’t feel like they got the opportunity to go and talk with him more. He never polygraphed to confirm what he was saying. I never got a chance to talk to him. I can’t say if it was him or not. The only way I can confirm it is if some way, some bones are found there in the area where Amber was supposedly tossed, and that those bones be tested for DNA.”
Though Clancy says investigators spent 18 months confirming Anderson’s confession, police have admitted that they do not have physical evidence connecting Anderson to Amber.
Over the years, Kim says she’s been contacted by people saying they were the ones who abducted Amber, “At one point there was one man who had been calling me, telling me that he had her, what he was doing with her, that he had just finished raping her, that he was sharing her with friends. You could hear a child screaming in the background. So all of those things, you have to take seriously. They got to him and told me that he would never make contact with me again. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard from him. But that’s just one of at least a dozen different scenarios.”
Kim is hopeful for a piece of legislation that she says could bring light to Amber’s disappearance and solve thousands of cases, “The DNA legislation, Senate Bill 1818 carried by Jackie Speier, spearheaded a DNA lab in Richmond that would build DNA databases of missing unidentified deceased persons and then of the missing persons. And those two databases would then be cross-referenced. The idea is to get every state in the nation to do the same thing and then upload the information to a federal database where all those bones could be cross-matched with anybody who’s missing on a national level. And I truly believe if this happens, that we’ll be able to solve thousands of cases. And who’s to say, if nothing’s found in Arizona, and all of a sudden they get a hit on a bone in Rodeo, California or Concord, then we know that Anderson wasn’t telling the truth.”
The mother says she’s always known it would be a hard case to solve. She simply hopes that at some point she is able to bury Amber with her father, a police officer, who was killed while pursing a parolee in 1980. At the time of his death, Kim was pregnant with Amber, “I almost lost her at the time my husband died and I had made a prayer that if I could be allowed to keep her only for a little while – just to not lose her then. And I got to keep that a little while.”
Anybody who would like to contact Kim, or has information that could confirm or refute anything that Anderson said, is urged to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
“I welcome anybody’s reply, I’ll try to reply back to everyone, and I thank everyone,” said Kim.