'Fearless' Chicago TV Executive Found Dead During Belize Vacation, May Have Been Sexually Assaulted

ABC7 Chicago TV Executive Anne Swaney Found Dead During Belize Vacation
Anne Swaney
Source: Anne Swaney/LinkedIn

01/16/2016 AT 12:00 PM EST

A local TV executive in Chicago, described as "fearless" and "a pivot around which we all orbited," was found dead Friday morning in Belize, where she had been vacationing, the U.S. State Department confirms to PEOPLE.

The battered body of Anne Swaney, 39, was found near the Nabatunich Farm, in San Jose Succotz, where she was staying during her vacation, reports ABC7 Chicago, where she worked as executive producer of online operations.

Swaney was supposed to go horseback riding with a group on Thursday, but stayed behind to do yoga by the river, according to the station.

Some of her personal effects were found on a deck by the water, and police began searching for her that night. They found her body in the river the next morning, with lacerations on her neck and head, local police told the station.

"We suspect that she may have been sexually violated," Benque Viejo Police Superintendent Daniel Arzu told NBC Chicago. "She had bruises around her neck that reveals that there might have been some strangulation or some sort of fight back."

Swaney's cause of death was ruled asphyxia by compression of the neck, manual strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head and neck, according to NBC Chicago.

The autopsy did not conclusively determine if Swaney had been sexually assaulted.

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Arzu told the station that the owners and all guests at the resort, including about 10 Americans, are being questioned.

There are known no suspects, he said.

"We offer our sincerest condolences to her family and loved ones on their loss. Our consular staff is providing all possible consular assistance," the U.S. State Department said in a statement to PEOPLE.

Swaney's family declined further comment to the Chicago Tribune.

"I'm really without words because it is a tragic loss for our newsroom, and really for the entire station and for the city of Chicago. She was terrific at what she did," said John Idler ABC7 Chicago president and general manager.

Described as tough but wise, kind, strong and smart, Swaney's ABC7 obituary said, "She gave her whole heart to the things and people she loved: her horse Sequoia, her cat Sasha and, of course, her father, mother and two brothers – one of whom she lost not long ago – and a tight-knit group of friends."

"To say that she was a pivot around which we all orbited would be an understatement," friend Heather Clark told ABC7.
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