On July 22, 2001, Marilyn Renee "Niqui" McCown went to do her laundry at the Richmond Coin Laundry at the corner of South 10th Street and South E Street in Richmond, Indiana. 28-year-old Niqui was the mother of a daughter, Payton Lackings, and worked as a corrections officer and accounting clerk at the Montgomery Education and Pre-Release Center. She was a student at Sinclair Community College with hopes of becoming a United States Marshall.
Niqui, who rarely did her laundry without a family member, always used the same washing and drying machines near the front door of the laundromat. Her sister, Tammie Hughes, lived so close to the laundromat that Nicqui could see the machines from her house. On this particular day, Tammy was at a movie.
"She did her laundry every Sunday right down the street from my house," Niqui's sister Tammie Hughes told Crime Watch Daily. "She would be sitting at my house waiting for her laundry to get done. We just hung out. That's what we did."
Nicqui decided to visit her parents. When she arrived at the house, Niqui "stormed into her mother's kitchen," Unsolved Mysteries reports. She was upset about two men who harassed her at the laundromat.
“I laughed at first because she was such a pretty girl, I just thought that some man was making a play. I said, ‘Niqui just calm down,’ because she really was really upset,” her mother Barbara McCown told Unsolved Mysteries.
"She said 'They just won't leave me alone,'" said Tammie, True Crime Daily reports. "And my mom said 'What's going on, Niqui, what's going on?' She said 'Well, you're an attractive girl, you know, things like that happen, guys do that, she said 'Just go get your laundry and come back here, you can dry it here,'" her sister Michelle told Crime Watch Daily.
Nicqui left to pick up her laundry and return to her mother's house. She never returned. It was just seven days after her daughter's 9-year-old birthday party. Nicqui was engaged to a man named Bobby Webster. Their wedding was scheduled for three weeks.
“She spent so much money on this wedding. She wanted it to be the perfect wedding. She wanted her face to be perfect, her hair to be perfect, her body to be perfect,” her sister Michelle McCown-Luster told Unsolved Mysteries.
Bobby came home that day around 4:30 from the tuxedo shop.
"I started watching TV, and I got lost in that TV show, so I got kind of lost on time, and just assumed that she was over at a friend's just, you know, chatting about the wedding, and you know, doing extra shopping too," Bobby told Crime Watch Daily. "I assumed she was out spending more money than we were agreeing to spend, I guess. She liked to shop."
By 5:30 pm, no one has heard from Niqui. When she failed to pick up her 9-year-old daughter, Payton, they knew something was wrong. She was driving his GMC Jimmy truck on the day she disappeared.Bobby Webster reported Niqui missing to the Richmond Police Department on July 23, 2001, the day after she disappeared.
"And they told us it was too soon," Tammie Hughes told Crime Watch Daily. "At that point, I guess you had to wait 72 hours before you could report somebody as an adult missing. And for that reason, is because they are allowed to make a decision to come and go as they want."
Her family immediately sprang into action. They posted flyers in Richmond, Indianapolis, and Dayton, conducted searches, created a Facebook page dedicated to finding Nicqui: Missing Niqui McCown" and continue to speak to the media about her disappearance.
According to Unsolved Mysteries, soon after Niqui vanished, Bobby Webster canceled their wedding instead of postponing the event. He also demanded a full refund from the reception hall the couple rented and attempted to return his wedding band to the store in exchange for cash but was turned away by the manager. Unsolved Mysteries reports that Bobby became violent and was removed from the store.
“I was to the point where it was like, this wedding doesn’t matter. Niqui’s wellbeing is what matters right now," Bobby said, reports Unsolved Mysteries.
Investigators did not believe his story.
"He started having behavior that was somewhat suspicious," Detective Miller told Crime Watch Daily. "He had canceled the wedding hall and got a refund for that. He had tried to return the ring to get a refund for that, had looked into her schooling, money for school, to get a refund. One of the excuses that he used was that he was trying to gather money for a reward"
Bobby first declined to take a polygraph test, but later agreed.
“One of the questions that was asked to Mr. Webster was, ‘Did you have anything to do with the disappearance of Niqui McCown?’ He says, ‘No,’ and the needle about jumped off the chart. So not only did he fail, he failed miserably," said Police Sergeant Bradley Berner, Unsolved Mysteries reports.
On November 3, 2001, the truck was found in the parking lot of the Meadows of Catalpa, an apartment complex in Dayton, Ohio, about 45 minutes from Richmond, Indiana. Investigators found Niqui's clean laundry inside the truck.
“The clothes looked like they had come just from the laundromat. They were neatly folded and did not have the appearance that someone had gone through any of the items," said Police Sergeant Bradley Berner, Unsolved Mysteries reports.
Authorities discovered Niqui had an ex-boyfriend, Steven Johnston, who lived in the same apartment complex where Bobby's truck was found. Steven is also Payton's father. He had an alibi and was given a polygraph test, which he passed.
"Lie-detector test, gave my DNA, whatever they needed, I would have gave it to them the very next day, all they had to do was ask," Steven told Crime Watch Daily.
Then, investigators developed a new suspect, a co-worker of Niqui's named Tommy Swint. Tommy worked at the same correctional facility as Niqui, and there were rumors he was obsessed with Nicqui.
"In speaking with family and friends it was found that they believe that he had somewhat of an obsession with her," Detective Miller told Crime Watch Daily.
At her bridal shower he gives her lingerie," Michelle McCown told Crime Watch Daily. "He wasn't there," said Michelle.
"He sent it," Tammie Hughes told Crime Watch Daily. "Very creepy."
"Many people said that, and especially towards women," Dayton Police Detective Patty Tackett told Crime Watch Daily. "Very violent towards women, that seemed to be the common denominator, was that it was the violence towards women."
"He was not completely cooperative, there was something odd about him, never quite cooperative, wouldn't answer questions completely or would go off subject," Detective Miller told Crime Watch Daily.
Six years after the disappearance of Niqui McCown, Tommy Swint become a Trotwood, Ohio Police Officer.
Detective Michelle Miller told Crime Watch Daily she was, "Astounded. In disbelief."
Investigators visited the Trotwood, Ohio Police Department and had a conversation with the chief. "We asked them, 'Did Tommy disclose the fact that he is a major person of interest in our Niqui McCown missing-person investigation?' And they said he didn't," Detective Miller told Crime Watch Daily.
The Trotwood Police Department gave Tommy the option to resign or retire. He filed a lawsuit. The suit was dismissed, but the publicity put his face in the media. And someone recognized him.
"A dead body of an individual by the name of Tina Ivery, she was actually found off the side of a road, thrown like trash in a trash pile," Dayton Police Det. Patty Tackett told Crime Watch Daily. "Somebody called in to give us information in regards to looking at him as a possible suspect in Tina Ivery's case."
His DNA was eventually linked to her case. In 2010, Tommy Swint committed suicide.
"We contacted Alabama as soon as the indictment came out to go out and arrest him and pick him up, and when they did and when they approach the house, they heard a gunshot, and Tommy actually took his life," Detective Tackett told Crime Watch Daily.
“It hasn’t been easy,” Niqui's daughter, Payton, told WHIO. “All girls want their mom. I got married, I went through pregnancy without that motherly advice. It’s something I’ve always longed for and being able to argue about the little things. It sounds silly, but it's something you never imagine.”
In 2020, Niqui's mother and Payton's grandmother passed away.
“She passed away with not knowing what happened to her daughter and I made her a promise that I would do anything I can to find answers,” Payton told WHIO.
“We’re hoping that maybe out of the goodness of their heart that they see that everything’s changed and we just want an answer of where our sister is and what happened,” her sister Tammie Hughes told the Palladium-Item. "I want to know more than anything. Don’t get me wrong, I do want justice.”
The family of Marilyn Renee "Niqui" McCown will never give up looking for her.
"I believe that as long as we keep her face across the world, that will help with the search," said Michelle McCown, one of Niqui's four sisters, the Palladium-Item reports. "Never going to give up."
Marilyn Renee "Niqui" McCown is 5'2" and weighed 115 pounds when she vanished.
If you have any information, please contact the Richmond Police Department at 765-983-7247.