When 71-year-old Orville Head dies, no one doubts his death as that of an elderly man with health issues. But then a tip suggests foul play, and Lieutenant Joe Kenda is forced to exhume the deceased man’s remains to find out the truth.
Show: ‘Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda: Raise the Dead’
Episode: Season 7 Episode 3
When new material raised doubts about Orville Sylvester Head’s death being natural, officials launched an investigation right away. Then, after hearing multiple witness testimony, it became evident that Orville’s death was, in fact, a homicide.
‘Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda: Raise the Dead‘ on Investigation Discovery digs into how a tip prompted the first investigation and led to the killer’s arrest. So, shall we investigate what transpired?
What Caused Orville Sylvester Head’s Death?
Orville Sylvester Head was born in the month of March in the year 1920. The 71-year-old was a former US Marine who served in WWII and was awarded the Purple Heart. Orville returned to civil service after a time in the military, but he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the episode.
Orville became an alcoholic as a result of this. He was living alone in a motel in Colorado Springs, Colorado, at the time of his death. On June 8, 1991, authorities were summoned to Orville’s room after receiving a 911 call. They discovered him on his bed inside.
Orville appeared to be dead, and the room was messy. There were no gunshot or stab wounds at the time, according to the police. Aside from it, there were no signs of forced entry or a struggle, nor was there a suicide note. The medical examiner eventually deemed he died by natural causes because he had various health issues.
However, once further information became available, the body was exhumed, and an autopsy was performed a few months later. Orville’s hyoid bone was shattered this time, indicating that he was strangled, making it a homicide.
Who Killed Orville Sylvester and Why?
After receiving a tip from a woman called Kay Conway, the authorities began investigating the case in September 1991. She told the cops that her partner, Paul Swanson, was the one who killed Orville. Paul, she claims, was a regular drinking partner of Orville’s and frequented his home. Kay went on to say that Paul didn’t come home the night Orville died. Kay later claimed he was inebriated and admitted to strangling the war veteran when she met him after work.
When questioned by the authorities, Paul stated that they had been drinking all night and had run out of booze. Orville appeared to be sleeping when he returned from the booze store. Paul stated that he drank alone on the couch and passed asleep. When Paul awoke the next day to see Orville still asleep, he assumed something was seriously wrong. Paul then claimed to have gone across the street to a nearby tavern to have someone contact 911, according to the show.
The authorities had to depend on witness accounts and probe deeper into the circumstances surrounding Orville’s death because they didn’t have any tangible evidence against Paul. According to the episode, Paul’s neighbour, Lester, claimed that after drinking, Paul became violent. Then Minion Wallace, a woman, came forward as well.
She claimed that she knew Paul and that he admitted to killing Orville. Minion claimed Paul contacted her the night the 71-year-old died, and she could hear Orville in the background. This was in direct contradiction to Paul’s earlier allegations that the phone was broken.
What happened to Paul Swanson and Where is He Now?
Despite the lack of tangible proof, two witnesses testified that Paul Swanson confessed to them about the murder of Orville Sylvester Head. Paul Swanson, then 35 years old, was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 40 years in jail in late 1992.
He stated in court that he didn’t make those confessions, but he admitted that he wanted others to think he was the murderer so he could intimidate them. Paul appears to have died on September 17, 2007, at the age of 49. The reason for death, however, has not been revealed.