Breaking news: Eric Abshire arrested

cover-justineanderic3Eric Abshire and Justine Swartz Abshire on their wedding day in May 2006. She would be dead less than six months later. PHOTO COURTESY SWARTZ FAMILY

Eric Abshire will spend the holiday behind bars, according to Orange County Commonwealth's Attorney Diana Wheeler, who says that the fact Abshire was directly indicted by a grand jury coupled with the court's abbreviated holiday schedule means Abshire won't get his first day in Orange County circuit court until the new year, when he'll be asked if he's obtained representation or wishes to have an attorney appointed.

"The court usually hears criminal cases on Thursdays and Fridays," says Wheeler, but because of the holidays, January 6 was the "earliest possible hearing" for Abshire, who was ordered held without bond.

Abshire was arrested and charged with first degree murder and perjury late in the afternoon of Friday, December 17 as he drove south on Route 29 near the town of Culpeper, according to Virginia State Police Special Agent Mike Jones, who's headed the four-year investigation into the death of Abshire's wife, Justine Swartz Abshire. "He didn't seem surprised," says Jones, who adds that Abshire was taken into custody without a struggle.

Justine's parents, Steve and Heidi Swartz, have long expressed suspicion of their former son-in-law, who claimed to have found his wife's lifeless body on a dark country road sometime after 1am on November 3, 2006, the apparent victim of a hit-and-run.

"It's been 4 years, one month and two weeks since Justine died," the family announced in a December 18 statement. "Instead of living with her joy and beauty,we have been forced to live with the terror of murder in our family," they wrote. "As we take one step closer to Justice for Justine, we hope for the whole truth to come out and for justice to be served."

The case has been the subject of intense media scrutiny that included a one-hour ABC Primetime Crime episode that aired in July 2008. Abshire, who is being held at the Central Virginia Regional Jail in Orange, has long maintained his innocence. Most recently, he did not return the Hook's repeated calls for the November 11, 2010 Hook cover story on the case.

–Updated Tuesday, December 21 at 9:44am

Original post:

Just over four years after he claimed to have found his wife's body on a winding country road in Orange County in the middle of the night, following what at first appeared to be a hit and run accident, Eric Abshire has been arrested and charged with first degree murder in the death of  Justine Swartz Abshire.

"He was arrested this afternoon in Culpeper without incident," says Virginia State Police spokesperson Corrinne Geller, who says Abshire is being held at Central Virginia Regional Jail. According to a release, the arrest followed an indictment issued by a special grand jury. Abshire has also been charged with perjury.

Justine's death– and her parents' increasing suspicion of their son-in-law– have been the subject of intense media scrutiny that included a one-hour ABC Primetime Crime episode that aired in July 2008. Most recently, Abshire declined comment for the November 11, 2010 Hook cover story on the case.

Updated 8:10pm with perjury charge and special grand jury indictment.


This story is a part of the The killing of Justine Swartz Abshire special.


In a small town, once they get him in front of a local jury and tell them all sorts of irrelevancies such as he was a hound dog and all that, they'll crucify him. Small town juries stumble over themselves to convict in circumstantial cases.
Cases like this, he's guilty until proven innocent and maybe even guilty in spite of being proven innocent, but he's not innocent until proven guilty; that's just one of the sweet little lies we tell ourselves to re-affirm we live in an earthly paradise.

Love the post dustbag. They deleted my post to her :)

You said it, Curious. He's always thought of himself first. Terrible attitude towards women in general. An abusive, hot tempered, manipulator. His kids were very fond of Justine, as she was of them. Did he think of the girls and how the murder and its aftermath would affect them? By the way, not that it matters, but they are not small children anymore

Well harley and curious. Did i hit a bone these kids are still small and unless you was there to say you seen him do it dont be so fast to past judgement and convict! Just think of your self and kids if you have that in you. We all want to justice for what was done but pulling others in is not the answer! I believe that the truth will come out and you should remeber that others should stay out of this matter and let the legal system do its job! and your right age doent matter for these kids but think about how there getting hurt in all of this. And let them live their life with a little bit of happiness. Im just thinking of them in all of these and maybe thats what all of you need to do. This goes way past all of these thats taken place and family posting things to hurt family is childish.

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This is like the Hatfield's and the McCoys.

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Dear Known Facts, did he think of his kids when he committed the crime???????? Did he think of his kids when he left their mother for another women/many other women???????? I THINK NOT!!!!!!

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Dear Known Facts, so are you saying he should get a pass on murder because he has kids? I don't think so! Also, the children's age is irrelevant.... And as far as people driving around to pick up the papers so people won't see them-how juvenile-just another way Eric and his clan try to control people.

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Or rather, that one of his clan has slipped up on something else and is offering to testify against him in exchange for a plea bargain.

quote: a conviction has to be ââ?¬Å?beyond a reasonable doubt”.

Exactly! And because of this newfangled DNA testing setting so many innocent free after they have served 15 and 20 years, circumstantial evidence is holding up as well as it once did.

My thoughts return to the night Justine died...on a lonely road with a man she married, loved, trusted, who in a rage snuffed out her life, leaving her laying in a road like a animal. My heart goes to the family, to Justine. She never wanted to marry the bum, he refused to allow her to leave...only one way out with him.
The women who post for him share one know what that is....

Dear Gasbag,

What do you know about baseball bats??????

Huh? Weird question. It's an old phrase of mine. Not long ago I told a mediator in a lawsuit I had filed that I would much rather have a half hour in a corn field with the defendent instead of a cash settlement. Cash settlements were getting real old at the time. :)

Great work, Courtney!

Maybe you could help Blink out with the Morgan Harrington case.

Nothing going on there! They could sure use someone like you.

She seems to be Clueless, literally!

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As for those who think courtney did such a great job, how about asking her for the whole truth and not half truths. I'm sure the police have not shared relevant information with her, she only prints what she's heard or what has been told to her. Did she actually check out these stories for FACTS or take them at face value? How about convicting someone without the whole story or evidence. I sure would hate to have her sit on a jury for me, a person could be convicted on heresay alone.

I'm curious, why is it that postings that point out faults with anyone other than Mr. Abshire are deleted? such as the comment posted this morning, pointing out that Ms. Abshire's family has some issues. Just asking


What seems to be your problem?? If you have the actual facts about this case, I suggest you contact LE first, then enlighten the rest of us. Perhaps Courtney Stuart would be interested in interviewing YOU, since you seem to have all the answers!I guess LE doesn't mind giving you all the inside information, you must be very special?

RU Kidding,

That's exactly what I'm saying, NO ONE has the ACTUAL FACTS. I'm just wondering where reporters get their INSIDE information and if it is verified by the police or anyone else. I just think the reports should be fair and not one-sided. When folks are interviewed it just seems like information isn't reported acurately. I do know some people who were intereviewed by Courtney Stuart and names of a couple of the people she talked to were wrong so if she can't get the names of the people she interviewed right what about other facts. What about not reporting the entire family dynamics and deleting postings that point out some of these issues.

No problem and who is LE.


Look out,that superior intelligence of yours is showing again. It's clear you are both a student of this case and have read all these stories. LE stands for LAW ENFORCEMENT.

Even if you don't agree with what the reporter says, they cannot just print "anything," their imformation must be verified. If she has used the wrong names for some people and you know this to be fact, I suggest you just contact her, or even post it on this site, and I am sure she will be happy to correct it after verification.

Now go back to your pop tarts and cartoons.

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I do beleive that other people will be charged in this case. IF he did murder her and leave her body in the road, he had to have help.....her car was left there by someone.

Mustang - agreed - thus the wrongful death suit (really don't believe they want the money) is being used to ferret out the person(s) responsible.

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There's plenty of people sitting in prisons on circumstantial evidence alone. It is up to a sane judge or a jury to decide what is enough evidence. Remember in a criminal case, a conviction has to be "beyond a reasonable doubt".

Mr/Mrs/Miss meanwhile, excelent point if we take it a step further, the fact that the threat of a wrongful death lawsuit hanging over somebody's head could be enough to make them say things that aren't true. Just to save their own bacon in this mess.

Let's remember that the last hook story about this case was detailing the civil suit brought by the parents. I think Scott's last comment could be on the mark. This suit may have brought pressure to bear upon a material witness. Or it may be that one of Ms. Stuart's LE sources indicated to her that they were close to an arrest, so she did the story.

The circumstantial evidence presented in the media so far has seemed flimsy. I agree with those that hope that the police are going on more than what the public knows. I would like to believe that of course they are, but my faith in law enforcement is not that high.

Of course, if this man is guilty, I hope that he is found to be so in a fair trial and that her family receives some comfort from his punishment.

I think everyone knew he was guilty from the start. Hope he enjoyed his 4 years of freedom while Justines family suffered and mourned the loss of their precious daughter.

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Oh, forgot to son was found INNOCENT and even though they admitted to lying nothing was done and I am sure that people that don't really know him may be thinking "I WONDER IF DID HE REALLY DO IT? Unfortunately, it's the way society is and I was probably part of the problem before it happened to my family...

I read the comments and it didn't seem like anyone was stressing about the papers, just asking for facts. I would be interested in who picked up all those papers and for what reason beacasue this has been all over the news and the Daily Progress. Seems like folks are throwing out comments without any backup

I agree its patheticic, and I would like to know who would do that, so if the info is so public share, who burned the papers. A birth defect across the board????? Please! Don't use God in your statement if your the one setting in judgement of everyone Debbie.If you think you are so capable of doing that try walking on water, see how that works out for ya!

I GUESS FOR ALL YOU PEOPLE OUT THEIR WHO THINK ERIC's brother had something to do with this should know he took and passed a lie detector test so i dont think so .... people should not talk about what they dont know..........................

C'mon maaaaaane - a defendant is PRESUMED innocent until proven guilty. Its bout dem charges, prosecutors provin reasonable doubt, and bein PRESUMED innocent in da absence of evidence to da contrary - urribody know dat. Dese boards be full of sum of da dumbest smart people mane... (SMH)

"Innocent until proven guilty."

I have never understood --- really --- what that means. Regardless of proof, someone either did something or did not do something. The proof just exposes the deed in a socially (and judicially) acceptable way.

If someone is guilty of an act --- they are always guilty of the act. If someone is not guilty of an act --- they are always innocent of the act. If someone has actually committed a crime: there is no point afterwards at which they become innocent.

We need a new & better phrase for this, because it's polluting our thinking.

Whoa! @EACP - you know, a good prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich...this is no indication of anything in terms of the quality of the evidence, particularly in a case so well publicized as this one, in this area. I'm sure Abshire gets a change of venue.

And GSOE is right: DNA (real, hard, objective evidence) has been exonerating a lot of "criminals" for years now - in increasing numbers - and revealing the "criminal justice" system for the sham it often is. Prosecutors and investigators are so terrified of the threat of their rather lame track record being publicly revealed that there is a strong move underfoot to allow the state to destroy evidence (lest anyone check up on it - you know, kind of like a criminal tossing the weapon in a river) and barring that to prevent anyone already convicted from being able to have the DNA tested. They'd just like to sweep all those bad convictions under the rug, because "they're bad people anyway - guilty of SOMETHING".

And yeah, I personally would prefer that a "murderer" get off on a "technicality" (Fuhrman & OJ) than allow the government to be sloppy in locking people up.

The case of the young man picked up off the street in Charlottesville as he was walking home from his job, then ID'ed by the victim of a sexual assault (within minutes of the assault), and exonerated by the DNA evidence a very short while later - leaps to mind. Yes, sure, he was exonerated...only because there was DNA evidence and only after he spent a week in jail. And yes, he was just picked up off the street. How many YEARS did we go with the serial rapist while the keystone cops flailed and got so desperate they started grabbing random men off the street in their desperation? The only got the real guy because his victim went into H-T and recognized him (and DNA evidence backed up her ID). Twenty-five years ago, before PCR (DNA amplification) was available, this guy would have been put away for a long time.

Guilty, indicted, convicted (and all three of those are very different things) or not, people have been thinking of Eric Abshire as a murderer for years. So yeah, hopefully they've got real evidence - that is, solid, direct and un-compromised - to convict him with. I'm guessing they were smart about it and have not indicted him before since they either didn't have such evidence or it was compromised in some way. Hopefully a smart prosecutor has figured out a way to fix that. After this much time, it seems more likely to me that he's slipped up and confessed to somebody who will testify.

Mr/Mrs/Miss Geez, you catch on fast.

Clan? REALLY????? All this is,is a gossip rag used to start and spread hear say. Its to rev-up the public and control what people believe. I have decided I am not going to feed into it any more. So have at it waste your time its not going to make a difference. I am pretty sure the court is not going to print this off and use it as evidence. So think about where your time is better spent.

To Worried,

Why not print ALL the facts, give a little background about why something may or may not be as it seems. Such as Ms. Abshire and her mother did not get along and she didn't want her mother at her wedding, maybe that is why she looked sad in some of the photos (bet you didn't know that)

Very mature....pop tarts and cartoons (ha ha)


Seems like you may HAVE all the facts, do tell.


Just wondering, what would make one trust you more than Courtney Stuart. At least she has a legitimate name, and works for a legitimate newspaper---Knowing you as MR./MRS./MS. WORRIED, doesn't help your credibility factor--not so much, huh!
JMO--maybe you should talk to law enforcement if you really want to make a difference. I am sure they would like all the help they can get.

Just to let who ever know, when there was something printed that was not true, I contacted and left my name and number for Ms. Stuart to return my call to discuss the misprint of info., and guess what? NO RETURN CALL. Imagine that.

RU Kidding (if that is your REAL name)

Why are you so intimidated that there are people out there who would like ALL the facts in order to make an informaed decision. I still like to think that, in the justice system, a person is innocent until proven guilty. How would you like to be accused of a crime and be tried and conviced without the benefit of a trial. why is this hard for you?

No need to resond, this is my last post. Just knowing that there are those out there who take everything at face value and can't think for themselves is a little depressing.


I believe you totally MISSED my point!

Mr. Abshire's guilt or innocence is of no concern to me. That will be determined by a jury of his peers. That the Grand Jury saw fit to indict,does say they have ENOUGH evidence to consider MR. Abshire responsible for his wife's murder.-

>)Anyone on this sight has the right to their "opinion", and I be-
lieve that is what they are expressing , their OPINION only.
>Courtney Stuart is to be commended on keeping this story in the
the public eye--that is what I was referring to with my first
>I do not believe anyone here is convicting Mr. Abshire of murder
based on Ms. Stuart's article, as you seem to think. She is
a journalist, she writes articles on newsworthy subjects.Justine
Abshires murder is certainly one of them.
>There will ALWAYS be people on either side of an issue-pro/con,
guilty/not guilty, etc., welcome to the Free World.
>The only people YOU should concern yourself with are the jurors
chosen for this case. Their verdict will reflect the only infor-
mation relevant to the outcome. Everything else is just opinion
and speculation.

So, no, I am not intimidated by people wanting all the fact's in order to make an informed decision. And no I do not fault Ms. Stuart for writing "a " story. Nor do I fault anyone here for their comments on Mr. Abshire's guilt or innocence. People will say what people will say--That's Life.
In the end all any of these victims need is someone to care enough not to let their case go "COLD" ...and that is what I meant by my comments about Ms. Stuart.

P.S. As far as the comment about Justine Abshire looking sad on her wedding day--that is the kind of comment that doesn't require comment. JMO---
SO Worried ,don't be Worried

Hope they have the evidence they need for a conviction.

I don't think circumstantial evidence will be enough.

Dear Gasbag, Why would you think that they only have circumstantial evidence? I think you may be the Gasbag for assuming they don't have the hard evidence.

What a joyful day-it is a great feeling to all of us who cared about Justine, to think of Eric sitting behind those bars tonight and hopefully every night for the rest of his LIFE!!!!!!

How is it the Hook has this online before the two television news operations have it up?

sorry, was suppose to read....

"circumstantial evidence isn't holding up as well as it once did!"

quote: How is it the Hook has this online before the two television news operations have it up?

I suspect they have confidential informants.

What do you think? They also get "news" the other media outlets never seem to latch on to.

courteney you deserve a lions share of credit for keeping this story in the news and providing some excellent in-depth journalism over the years. you are a big reason why the hook is as successful as it is and why i read it in the first place. congrats on helping to get this guy behind bars. someone buy that lady a drink.

I second what Josh is saying. Great job Courtney! Let's hope this guy stays in jail.

Innocent until proven guilty.

Not true, Karen. Sadly enough.... now that murder charges have been filed, he will ALWAYS be known as a murderer whether he is convicted or not. Just like O J Simpson.

Karen and Gasbag must be friends of Abshire's. By the way, Gasbag, OJ is a murderer. You think its "sad" people think of him that way? Yikes! Everyone with half a brain knows how & why he wasn't convicted in the first circus of a trial. That won't be repeated in this case. Finally, we will see justice for Justine!

Jackson, I do not any party involved in this story. But you proved my point well. Just like O J Simpson, Abshire will always be a murderer whether he is convicted or not.

I'm sorry, I might feel differently about the O J Simpson case had former LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman not taken the witness stand and committed perjury under oath.

correction, I left out a word....

I do now KNOW any party involved in this story. Except the reporter of course.

Thank you Courtney for your great investigative reporting, and for keeping this story alive. Its been a long time coming. I'm feeling happy and hopeful tonight that Justine's killer is sitting in a jail cell where he belongs.
Also praying that they have built up a solid case. And that t's are crossed and i's are dotted, as they say. People have been convicted on only circumstantial evidence (think of Scott Peterson). And the circumstantial evidence in this case, just what has been made public, is pointing to only one person. But we all want to make sure Eric is convicted and send to prison.

Just go ahead and get the chair and lethal injection ready for him, at the same time.

I think everybody knew something didn't sound right from the begining.

So glad after all this time they have arrested him. I hope they have all the evidence they need for a conviction. There will hopefully be justice for Justine after all.

When someone is just sitting around waiting for the cops to knock on his door and take him away....hum....sounds pretty guilty to me. Nothing about that night sounded right and justice will hopefully, be served.

Keep the ball rolling and get this lunatic off the streets. RIP Justine. He deserves everything that is coming to him. He has damaged and destroyed so many lives. What is wrong with him? Go sit in jail and think about it Eric. Did you seriously think you were going to get away with it????? For what? Oh yeah, and Karen....if this was your sister would you feel the same? What is your connection with Eric? Apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Sad for you too.

Ya know, I'm sorry, but Debbie and Tina are the type of people who make the strongest case in anybody saying our criminal justice system is broken. They sit here and openly proclaim Abshire's guilt. But once in front of a judge during jury selection they both will most likely say they have formed no opinion as to his guilt or innocence.

There was a time that innocent people were hung from trees because of the color of there skin. There was no trial, just mob justice. I think we have come a long way since those days. Our system is not perfect, but it works. I think there are a lot of emotions getting in the way. Emotions are human, but to convict a man before the state has proven there case, throws our society back 200 years.

Isn't it kind of unusual for someone to be tried on murder AND perjury charges? Any of you legal eagles out there know what that might indicate?

It is probably a coincidence that this came so close to the filing of the civil charges. But back to the perjury. Didn't some of his relatives (brother in particular) back up Eric's story to a T? If there is evidence that Eric perjured himself, wouldn't it stand to reason that there was evidence that one of his relatives also perjured himself. Yet, there is only a charge against Eric. Seems like perjury in a murder case is pretty serious business. Not something authorities would overlook.

Of course, unless said relative(s) recanted after given a promise of immunity.

Regardless of the outcome, I think Eric will have to live with this incident and the backlash it will cause. I only wish that all the evidence would come out in a factual nature and not in some journalist form for us to read. Unfortunately, that's all we have as information unless we get selected for jury duty (I live in Orange County...). But as Gasbag states, not sure I could be neutral in the case which would NOT make me a good juror.

Barbara Myer- great point!! Can't wait until someone brings that up on the legal level. A guilty party is always guilty, never innocent....very interesting thought.

Thoughts go to Boy George Huguley- he is guilty, not innocent- as he admitted his guilt. His attorneys know it too- they are now attempting to prove that he did not kill Ms. Love- well, at least knowingly, or whatever.

I am glad to say that I am so happy that they have finally got this going in the right direction! Justine was my sons kindergarten teacher, & we got the chance to know her very well. She deserves the right to rest in peace, & the only way to give that to her is if the person/people that did this to her pay for it.

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I never heard of the paper incident. That in itself speaks volumes. Like I said earlier, apple does not fall far from the tree. Again, who would do that??????? A birth defect across the board with that family for sure. Speaks about who and what they are! And let me just say, if he is innocent - may God let him off. But that will not be the case. Just sickening!

Not quite but good try!

My family knew both families and this is indeed truly a tragic situation for both. It is true that once you are charged in the public you will NEVER be innocent even if you ARE, because it has put doubt in someone’s mind so there is always going to be someone out there thinking he did it even if they found out someone else did it. I know personally how it feels as a mother to have your child accused of something, go to jail, have their name in the paper and go through a trial to find out that the other party was found to have lied about it or that the persecutors had not done their job in interviewing people or looking into the real facts. They were so glad to rush to judgment and fought having certain doctors records brought forth so we could prove what we already knew. So please, I agree that we want justice for Justine but lets make sure before we make a lot of hurtful comments that hurt both sides, that Eric is indeed the right person to be punished. Let's not rush to judgment...leave that for God to do. Both families with be in my thoughts and prayers...

ready, set, go Gasbag!!!

(insert police officers lying in court)

He was at the hospital until early morning hours with his mother who was terminal, didn't think she would live through the night. Knowing he could be called back to the hospital anytime when did he have the time to do all of this, where did he do it, was there evidence on his vehicle, bruses on his hands or body as if he had been in a confrotation, what was found in the house when searched? What about a car that belonged to a family that lived on the road Ms. Abshire was found on - it was burned and disappeared a few days after the incident, was this ever checked out? Just asking those who seem to know a lot about this case.


I personally thought he was responsible from the initial reports. The evidence and his story did not make sense, he had to have been involved. Hopefully the Commonwealth's Attorney has a strong case since they have taken their time in bringing charges against him.

Why are email addresses showing up?


I love the passive aggressive postings. "may God bless you while I step on your head".
I do not think the case is very strong. It took 4 years to bring charges.

Seam noun : The joining of two sewing, usu. near the edge, the stitching used in such a joining. 2. the space between adjoining planks or strakes...ect...

So, add that to your education! Turn the cap lock off and enjoy the cold weather.

Mmmmm.... - I was thinking the same thing...."God bless you, but I want to stomp you one! How dare you have an opinion!"

Setting aside spelling (word choice) and capitalization, which are really irrelevant and orthogonal criticisms of her posting, Michelle is exactly right about this. That was my point about why there was such a delay in charging him in the first place. Abshire might be a really disagreeable and unlikeable person, and a jerk to women to boot, but that's not evidence of murder. I've re-read the original article, and I have to say, while there are some odd things in his account, they don't add up to anything definitive.


Correct. This is why so MANY prisoners who were convicted on circumstantial evidence nationwide are now being released from prison thanks to DNA testing, but only after serving 15 and 20 years for a crime they did not commit.

Dear Gasbag,
If you are claiming he didn't do it and DNA can prove it-fine. But, I still think he should serve a nice 20 years in the klink for abusing her..... How about you?

He looks like a psychopath in that photo with his smarmy smirk and cold beady eyes. And Justine looks sad. Here's another slightly different version of the photo taken during the same shoot and here you can really see what I mean:

That's not a happy woman.

curious, I am not claiming anything in this particular case. I am simply hoping they have more than circumstancial evidence to convict him with. Circumstancial evidence ain't making the grade nowadays since we have seen so many wrongfully convicted based on it in the past.

I bet if the family was to be given a choice, his serving 20 years in jail, or their getting to take him into a corn field with an aluminum baseball bat for 30 minutes, the family would choose the bat option. :)

yall really need to shut up this man did not do this