Woman Charged With Arson, Assaulting Garvin County Deputy

Thursday, February 21st 2019, 10:07 pm
By: Bonnie Campo

Kelsey Lea Swinford, 41, is locked up in the Garvin County Jail after allegedly burning down her mother’s hay barn. 

The sheriff said Swinford called to the report the fire, but when a deputy arrived on scene, he believed Swinford was drunk.

“He observed the calling party using a 2019 Dodge pick-up, ramming into the barn that was on fire,” said Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes.

Fire investigators said it appears Swinford was trying to break holes in the building, so oxygen would enter at a faster rate and create a larger fire. They also said it appears fuel was also used to accelerate the fire.

When the deputy was able to arrest Swinford, he said she kicked him twice in the head, and then tried to run away. She was caught after a short foot chase, according to the sheriff.

However, damages to the rural Garvin County barn are severe. Three hundred haybales were destroyed. The sheriff said they were worth about $100,000 and belonged to a local farmer who was renting space in the barn.

The barn itself is also estimated at close to $70,000 and has been reported as a total loss.

The sheriff said Swinford previously told her mother that she wanted the farmer to vacate his rental of the barn. Swinford asked her mom to take out a second mortgage on the land, according to Sheriff Rhodes, so that she could use it to buy another piece of property worth $6.24 million.

“Really unusual that the motivation was a family dispute and was aimed at a third party who was merely staying his hay in this barn,” said Sheriff Rhodes.

Investigators then discovered that Swinford was out on bond from Oklahoma County, relating to a domestic abuse and assault case. She was released on February 8 and has since been suspected in two other metro fires.

Within the past 48 hours, two homes were targeted, according to Bethany police. One property is in Bethany, and the other is in northwest Oklahoma City. Investigators said both locations have a connection to Swinford.

One home belongs to Swinford’s ex-girlfriend, which now allegedly belongs to the ex-girlfriend’s new partner.

“These all seem to be family related, domestic related,” said Sheriff Rhodes.

Damage did not appear to be severe in the metro, but police said Swinford should be considered dangerous.

Bethany police are asking witnesses to come forward. They are searching for anyone who might have seen Swinford in the neighborhoods before the fires.

The suspect is being held in the Garvin County jail on a $50,000 bond. Her charges include Third Degree Arson, Malicious Injury to Property and Assault and Battery on Police Officer, following an arraignment Wednesday afternoon.