The case of Diane Markland, who was murdered and sexually assaulted by Roy Clifton Swafford, features tonight on Investigation Discovery’s Valentine’s Day Nightmare: Paula Zahn Investigates.
On February 14, 1981, the 17-year-old senior at Spruce Creek High School was kidnapped as she was waiting for a taxicab after her Valentine’s Day date in Daytona Beach, Florida.
The following day, her lifeless body was found in a wooded area on Ormond Beach. She had been raped and shot three times — once in the head and twice in the back.
Markland’s death remained unsolved for over two decades until 2004 when DNA evidence linked Swafford to her murder.
He was incarcerated at the time, waiting for a retrial in the 1982 murder of 27-year-old gas station clerk Brenda Meadows Rucker.
Police said Swafford was in town for Daytona 500 when he kidnapped, raped, and killed Markland. He returned the following year and did the same to Rucker on Valentine’s Day.
Her body was found near the Old Sugar Mill ruins in Ormond Beach.
Swafford was scheduled to be put to death in 1990, but two hours before it was set to happen, his execution was stopped after the Florida Supreme Court raised questions about the evidence found in the case.
After spending nearly three decades on death row, he pled guilty to the murder of Markland and Rucker.
A judge sentenced Swafford to two consecutive life sentences. Authorities believe Swafford may be responsible for more killings, but there has been no evidence linking him to the crimes.
Valentine’s Day Nightmare: Paula Zahn Investigates airs at 11pm on Investigation Discovery.