Swank Brothers Bait Daniel Yarbrough With Bible Study Before Murder


Army specialist Daniel Yarbrough, 31, parked his car outside a friend’s house in Apple Valley, Calif. On September 29, 2014. He had arrived for a Bible study night.

But around 9:40 p.m., Yarbrough was shot. MPs found him in the driver’s seat of his white Volkswagen Jetta. The weapon used in the murder was later determined to be a 20 gauge shotgun.

Yarbrough, who had served in the National Guard for three years at Fort Irwin in Barstow, was standing outside the car when he was shot within 10 or 15 feet, investigators told “Killer Motive” . Saturdays at 6 / 5c to Oxygen.

Yarbrough fell to the sidewalk and crawled into the vehicle and died. He was identified at the scene by a Wesley Swank, another soldier from Fort Irwin, who had invited Yarbrough to the study meeting.

“An American soldier was shot dead in the street,” the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said. Troy Mooradian told “Killer Motive” host Troy Roberts. “We had to fix this problem.”

Investigators interviewed friends during the study session, surveyed the neighborhood for witnesses and spoke with those close to Yarbrough to find possible leads on who may have committed the crime.

They soon learned that the house Yarbrough shared with his roommate Ruben Vegas had been broken into and ransacked. Vegas told producers the men filed a police report but believed the crime was gang related and set out to resolve the situation on their own.

Shortly after the home invasion, Yarbrough narrowly came close to being injured in a drive-by shooting. Yarbrough told friends he had the unsettling feeling that he had been shot while in his car.

In light of these recent past events, investigators have considered the possibility of gang-related links to Yarbrough’s murder, but this line of inquiry has failed to gain ground.

Then the case took an unexpected turn when Swank contacted detectives to inform them that something had escaped him when he spoke with officials immediately after the shooting. Swank had forgotten to tell them that Yarbrough had recently made him the beneficiary of his $ 250,000 life insurance policy – which raised a red flag for investigators.

Swank accepted a polygraph test, and the results came back inconclusive. However, the test administrator was more inclined to believe that Swank was telling the truth. Swank’s story gained credibility after investigators spoke to more of Yarbrough’s friends who said Yarbrough approached them about his life insurance. A friend said Yarbrough should choose a family member as the beneficiary.

After two months of no progress, the investigation was on the verge of cooling off. But another unexpected twist came when Yarbrough’s aunt received a copy of the document used to change the beneficiary from the murdered guard’s sister, Feticha Oliphant, to Wesley Swank. Signature seemed to be a fake.

Mooradian told “Killer Motive” that although Swank was now a suspect, investigators wanted to build a stronger case before making an arrest. In January 2015, a seemingly unrelated local residential fire sparked the case.

The fire consumed the house of a notorious family whose name and heritage had become synonymous with physical and sexual abuse and disturbing behavior. The patriarch was Richard J. Swank, who is serving a life sentence. Wesley Swank is one of his 16 children.

Another of the 16 children was Melissa Anderson. She had “escaped from hell,” as the San Antonio Express-News wrote in a profile story in 2011, joining the military and eventually becoming a lawyer. When Anderson told one of his sisters about the fire, his brother wondered aloud if the fire had something to do “with Yarbrough”.

Anderson didn’t understand what that meant, but she searched the internet and found stories about Yarbrough’s murder. The homicide took place outside the home of Thomas Bradshaw, Anderson’s brother-in-law.

Anderson contacted Det. Mooradian, whose name and contact details appeared in the story. When she said she suspected Swank had something to do with the murder, the investigator said he agreed with her, according to “Killer Motive.”

Detective asked Anderson if she would come speak with Swank and wear a wire to record her conversations. She has accepted. “It was scary but I wasn’t in conflict about it,” she told Roberts. “I wore it in my bra.”

Growing evidence pointed to Swank’s involvement, including a deleted text message from the night of Yarbrough’s murder. He ordered the victim to park in front of the mailboxes, exactly where the shooting took place.

In January 2015, Wesley Swank was arrested and taken into custody. During in-depth questioning, he said his younger brother Logan was the trigger man. Logan Swank was arrested in San Antonio, Texas. Bradshaw, their brother-in-law, has been charged with acting as the driver of the murder.

In return for his testimony, Bradshaw arguably pleaded a minor charge of “allowing someone to shoot from a vehicle.” He was sentenced to 1,094 days in prison and served half of that sentence.

In separate trials in 2015 and 2016, respectively, Logan Swank, then 21, and Wesley Swank, 29 at the time and considered the masterminds of the crime, were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Oliphant, whose moving encounter with Anderson is seen in “Killer Motive,” grappled with the brutal murder of his brother – and the gruesome reason he was killed.

“It was for money,” she told Roberts. “Greed.”

For more on the case, watch “Killer Motive” airing Saturdays at 7 / 6c to Oxygen, or stream episodes on Oxygen.com.


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