Man accused of murdering his ex-wife appears in court

NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) – An accused killer cried in Craven County courtroom this morning while facing a judge for the first time.

Police found the body of 22-year-old Summer Dawn Swindell of Havelock Friday in New Bern. Swindell’s family is heartbroken.

“I’ve prayed the last six weeks for those kids’ sake that he had nothing to do with it. They are the ones that will be hurt the most,” says Lori Ann Dunn Swindell.

Michael Ballance walked into the courtroom with his head down and wiping his tears. The Havelock man is charged with murdering his ex-wife, the mother of his children back in April.

Police found summer Swindell dead in an abandoned home near Lake Tyler Subdivision in New Bern.

During his first court appearance, family and friends watched from the back of the courtroom. After months of no answer, Swindell’s family is devastated.

“I don’t see how anybody could do it to their child. If it’s proved to be him, I don’t understand how he can take their mother from them.”

Swindell’s grandmother was visibly upset when leaving. The family says it’s very difficult time for both families involved.

“Were glad that we have found her, but it’s final now, we know she’s not coming back.”

District Attorney Scott Thomas says while the motive remains unclear, they are glad they found Swindell, for the sake of her family.

“We had some information that lead us to that general area and that’s why we organized the search for last Friday. We had about 100 people scheduled for that search and after about a 2.5 hour search, that’s when we located the body there at the house,” said Thomas.

Swindell’s aunt says it’s time to move forward.

“Try to start healing, now that we know that we know, once she was found, like I said, start the healing process, justice for Summer.”

The next court date is set to be on June 19th.  The medical examiner’s office started Swindell’s autopsy Monday. There is no word on the result will come in.

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