28-year-old Marilyn “Niqui” McCown lived in Richmond, Indiana with her fiancé, Bobby Webster. She worked as an accounting clerk at a state prison in Dayton, Ohio. Niqui had big dreams of becoming a United States Marshal and took Criminal Justice classes part-time at Sinclair Community College.
Niqui was the proud mother of a 9-year-old girl named Payton who she shared custody of with her ex-boyfriend, Steven Johnston. Steven was unfaithful and often left Niqui covered in bruises. Eventually, Niqui decided enough was enough, she left Steven and rekindled a romance with her high school sweetheart, Bobby. Three years later, they were engaged.
It was July 22, 2001, only three weeks before Niqui was set to walk down the aisle and say “I do.” While Bobby and his brother were getting fitted for tuxes, Niqui decided to run some errands of her own. She dropped Payton off at her parents’ house at noon and headed to Richmond Coin Laundry with a basket full of clothes.
Niqui put her clothes in the washing machine and returned to her parents’ house to wait. Irritated, she told her mom about two Hispanic men who had harassed her at the laundromat and made her feel uncomfortable.
Niqui’s mom suggested she pick up her clothes and dry them at her house instead, but Niqui refused. She returned to the laundromat to finish up, promising to pick Payton up at 6 pm.
By 7 pm, Niqui still hadn’t returned. By 8, her family was concerned and by 10, they were frantic.
After driving around aimlessly in search of Niqui, her sister called the police, but they refused to open a missing persons report since Niqui was an adult and there were no signs that she was in danger. They suggested that perhaps Niqui had cold feet and took off on her own, but her family was convinced she had fallen victim to something terrible, instead.
After all, Niqui was looking forward to her upcoming wedding, she had a daughter she adored and a job she was committed to. Niqui had no reason to abandon everything she cared about and her family insisted that if she was missing, it wasn’t voluntary.
The Search for Niqui Begins
It wasn’t until Niqui failed to show up for work the next morning that the police began to take her disappearance seriously.
Back at the home Niqui shared with Bobby, the police found her purse and ID, but no sign of the missing mom.
None of the employees at the laundromat recalled anything suspicious occurring on the day Niqui vanished and neither of the men who she claimed had harassed her have ever been identified.
Surveillance footage from a convenience store next to the laundromat showed Niqui entering the store alone, buying a soda, and driving away with her laundry, unharmed.
Niqui made a call to a co-worker asking about hair and makeup products on the day she disappeared. The co-worker recommended a store in Dayton, Ohio. Investigators believe Niqui was headed to Dayton once she left the laundromat but was harmed along the way.
Nearly three and a half months later, Niqui’s car was found parked in an apartment complex in Dayton where her ex-boyfriend Steven lived. The battery and stereo had been ripped out, the door lock was broken and the ignition had been tampered with. Niqui’s laundry was neatly folded in the back seat.
The car contained no blood, no DNA, and no fingerprints.
Suspect #1: Niqui’s Fiancé, Bobby Webster
Bobby claimed that after getting his tux in order, he returned to an empty apartment at 4:30 pm. He figured Niqui was with her family or out shopping and decided to watch television until she returned.
Only a few days after Niqui went missing, Bobby called the reception hall, cancelled the wedding and received a full refund. He then returned his wedding band and called Sinclair Community College requesting a refund for Niqui’s tuition.
Bobby claimed he was only trying to gather money for a reward and to buy a cellphone to keep in contact with detectives regarding the investigation, but to Niqui’s family it appeared as if he already knew that she was never going to return home.
Bobby insisted he had nothing to do with Niqui’s disappearance and even agreed to take a polygraph test, which he failed.
Suspect #2: Niqui’s Ex-Boyfriend, Steven Johnston
Steven had been violent towards Niqui in the past, her car was found parked in the apartment complex where he lived and he had a motive: jealousy over her upcoming wedding.
But, Steven also had something else: an alibi. He was working on the day Niqui vanished. Steven also passed a polygraph test and voluntarily provided a sample of his DNA and fingerprints, ruling him out as a suspect.
Suspect #3: Tommy Swint
Another person who knew Niqui also lived near the apartment complex where her car was found: Tommy Swint.
Tommy was a correctional officer at the same state prison where Niqui worked and according to several witnesses, he was both incredibly violent towards women and completely infatuated with Niqui.
Niqui rejected Tommy’s advances several times but he refused to take no for an answer, even going as far as sending lingerie to her house on the day of her bridal shower.
Unsurprisingly, Tommy refused to cooperate with the investigation and the case went cold for the next six years— until one day in November of 2007, when an anonymous tip came in that solved an entirely different cold case.
Tina Marie Ivey
According to the tip, Tommy was both involved in Niqui’s disappearance and responsible for the death of 34-year-old Tina Marie Ivey.
A tree-trimming crew stumbled upon Tina’s body on December 17, 1991, disposed of in a pile of trash by the side of the road in Dayton, Ohio. She had been beaten, sexually assaulted, and strangled.
By the time investigators brought Tommy in for questioning regarding Tina’s death in 2009, he was working as a police officer in Trotwood, Ohio. Once the Trotwood Police Department learned that Tommy had failed to disclose he was a major person of interest in Niqui’s disappearance, they gave him two options: resign or be terminated.
Tommy resigned and unsuccessfully tried to sue the city.
Tommy was just as uncooperative with Tina’s case as he was with Niqui’s. He refused to provide a sample of his DNA or his fingerprints, but luckily, his former employer already had both (standard during the hiring process for a police officer) and handed it over to investigators working Tina’s case.
Tommy’s DNA and fingerprints matched those found on Tina's body.
Investigators were now more confident than ever that Tommy was also involved in Niqui’s disappearance, but as they pulled into the driveway of his home armed with an arrest warrant, they suddenly heard a loud, jarring bang.
Tommy had shot himself in the head.
The Search for Niqui Continues Twenty Years Later
Sadly, Niqui’s parents passed away without ever learning what happened to their beloved daughter.
Though the case remains unsolved, the authorities believe Tommy was involved in Niqui’s disappearance and that when he died, the truth died with him. He remains the prime suspect.
Today, Niqui’s daughter Payton is 30-years-old. She fell in love, married, and became a mom herself, all without the warmth and comfort of her mother by her side. Payton wants nothing more than to find out what happened to her mother, and why.
Niqui was 5'2" and weighed 115 lbs. She was last seen wearing a bright pink and purple swimsuit top with dark-colored shorts, diamond earrings, and a white-gold bracelet. She has a small scar above her left eye, on her right cheek, and on the top of her head. Niqui also has a large scar on her left leg. She was driving a 1990 GMC Jimmy 4x4.
If you have a tip regarding the disappearance of Marilyn Renee “Niqui” Nicole McCown, contact the Richmond Police Department at 765–983–7247.
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