A pair of young Chicago newlyweds, subject of an intensive three-state police search since disappearing nearly four months ago, were reunited with the bride’s parents in a San Diego hotel Wednesday.
The bride’s parents learned of the couple’s whereabouts Tuesday in a telegram and follow-up telephone call from the newlyweds, San Diego police spokesman Bill Robinson said.
Carolyn MacLean, 22, and Scott Swanson, 23, had eloped a week before they dropped out of sight April 2 without a word to relatives or classmates at a suburban Christian college. Their ransacked luxury car was found in a downtown Chicago alley, its motor still running, according to Chicago Police Cmdr. Ettore DiVito.
MacLean’s parents arrived in San Diego Wednesday afternoon.
At an emotional news conference after meeting with his wife’s parents, Swanson said, “We are tremendously sorry for the hurt and the pain we’ve caused to our families, to our friends and loved ones and relatives,”
His wife added, “We’re so in love and we wanted to get away from the adornment and the material world and develop our relationship apart from that and we did that.”
MacLean’s father, Jim MacLean, said he thought the couple had been killed. “I feared they were dead. But now I realize that they didn’t run away from us, but they ran to something else,” he said upon arriving in San Diego.
Swanson’s parents were on vacation and could not be contacted. And they may not even know, according to DiVito, that the couple have been found.
Robinson and DiVito do not believe any laws were broken, but law enforcement agencies involved in the search are incensed with what has happened.
“We’re disheartened that we’d expended so many man-hours,” said DiVito, who headed the investigation. He said Chicago police may try to recover the costs of their efforts, but refused to comment further.
“We’re disappointed that they would put people through all that grief, but at the same time, we’re glad that they’re OK,” said Christy Hodson, a spokeswoman for Wheaton, the private, evangelical school the couple attended.
“Isn’t that terrible? Two yuppie zeros costing taxpayers all that money,” said an unidentified Chicago police officer after a news conference there.
The couple’s friends at Wheaton College, where MacLean was a junior and Swanson a senior, held prayer vigils, put up posters and questioned people at roadside restaurants and gas stations.
At the Wheaton campus Wednesday, a bell was rung at noon to celebrate the news that the couple had been found.
Chicago investigators had noted before the two resurfaced that some of the circumstances surrounding the couple’s disappearance indicated that they had planned to vanish. But family and friends had said that the pair were too responsible to have gone away without letting loved ones know they were all right.
The couple was last seen by MacLean’s grandmother on April 2, the day before Easter, as they left her home. They had said they were having dinner in the city before heading for Swanson’s home in Elgin, Ill., about 40 miles from Chicago.
Friends told police that the couple had been saving money for a trip, and that MacLean had bought $600 worth of clothes and made entries in her diary about travel.
In June, police learned that “Hidden Hawaii: The Adventurer’s Guide” had been checked out March 29 on Swanson’s library card, causing police to speculate that the two were missing by choice.
“We have been swamped with calls from the East Coast, from people concerned about the whereabouts of those kids,” said Robinson, the San Diego police spokesman. “The only thing we know is that they are now living in San Diego--safe.”
The disappearance not only caused confusion for officials involved in the search, but it affected a San Diego resident who moved to the area about the same time the newlyweds arrived. Twenty-one-year-old Scott Andrew Swanson said his telephone was ringing off the hook Wednesday with calls from reporters wanting the story of his disappearance.
“It got pretty annoying,” Andrew Swanson said from a Point Loma neighborhood bar, where he tried to escape from what he described as harassment by “everyone on earth.”
“There were people knocking on my door at one point,” he said, “and even a camera crew from Chicago which had the camera rolling as I answered the door.
“One of the people in the crew from Chicago swore I looked just like the Scott Swanson they had been tracking,” he said.
Andrew Swanson, who said reporters accused him of wearing his prescription eyeglasses as part of a disguise, not only has the same name as Carolyn MacLean’s husband, but the same blond hair too.
“This has been a pretty confusing day,” he said, “but I’m waiting for the real Scott Swanson to call me for all of his messages.”