Relatives of the victims led police to the suspect, who is their neighbor
For months, Rebecca Pletnewski fearfully told family and friends her neighbor was stalking her. Now, the 41-year-old Ohio woman and her 8-year-old daughter are dead — allegedly murdered by that very neighbor, who police say stabbed Pletnewski to death before setting her house on fire, killing the little girl.
After the blaze was extinguished, officials found the body of Olivia Schneider in the girl’s upstairs bedroom.
The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office later determined she died from smoke inhalation before the flames reached her.
The neighbor, 27-year-old Dominique Swopes, 27, has been charged with two counts each of aggravated murder and aggravated arson.
Jail records confirm Swopes remains in police custody on an unspecified amount of bail. It was unclear Tuesday if he’d entered pleas to the charges or retained an attorney who could comment on his behalf.
While speaking to local media, Mayfield Heights Police Chief Fred Bittner revealed the stalking allegations.
“[Swopes] became a subject of interest,” Bittner said, “because what family and friends had told us, that Rebecca had warned them or told them of instances of potentially stalking by the neighbor. He became our primary suspect at the time after talking to family.”
Relatives told police Pletnewski complained for months about Swopes’ alleged unwanted advances.
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“He just apparently had left her notes occasionally or talked to her outside,” Bittner alleged. “There were other advancements made through maybe social media, and she told him she didn’t want anything to do with him, she had a boyfriend.”
FOX 8 reports that Pletnewski was an intensive care nurse at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and that her daughter was a third grader at Lander Elementary.
A funeral was held for the mother and daughter on Monday.
The pair are survived by Pletnewski’s 4-year-old daughter, who was not home at the time of the deadly fire.
A GoFundMe page has been created for the little girl.