When a young mother is murdered in her Michigan home, the brutality of the crime is unprecedented in her small community. An enduring mystery remains unsolved despite a wealth of evidence in this episode of Last Seen Alive.


After 35 years, investigators arrested 53-year-old Robert Odell Waters of Beaufort, South Carolina in relation to the brutal 1988 murder of young mother Cathy Swartz. Waters was charged with Open Murder, and taken into custody on April 30th, 2023. Waters was identified as a suspect through the use of familial DNA, cutting-edge DNA technology and the expertise of scientists at Othram Labs. The Three Rivers Police Department, Michigan State Police and Western Michigan State University’s Cold Case Program all worked hard to ID Cathy’s alleged murderer and bring him to justice.

For more information on how Cathy’s alleged murderer was brought to justice–and how you can help solve other cold cases–check out Last Seen Alive’s update episode on Cathy’s case, which aired on May 4th, 2023.

Additional update: suspect Robert Odell Waters was found deceased in his jail cell at Beaufort County Detention Center on May 6th, 2023, one week after his arrest.

Sources used to research this episode:

Cold Case Files: Brutal Murder of Cathy Sue Swartz (Kristin Bien / WSBT News)

VIDEO: Cold Case Murder of Cathy Swartz (WSBT News via YouTube)

Summary Crime Reported by the Three Rivers Police Department 1985-2020 (FBI UCR Crime Data Explorer)

Jeffrey Wayne Gorton (Murderpedia)

Dayle Trentadue v. Jeffrey Gorton et al. (State of Michigan Supreme Court)

Former Orlando Subject is Suspect in Michigan Death (Doris Bloodsworth / Orlando Sentinel)

Also, this collection of newspaper clippings from the South Bend Tribune and others, from around the time of Cathy’s death and the following few years:

If you know anything about the murder of Cathy Swartz, please contact the Three Rivers Police Department at  269-278-1235.

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