(Laura James is the author of CLEWS, The Historic True Crime Blog, and one of the most gifted bloggers covering true crime online.)
Roger Sweet’s wife of seven years is missing. Things look bleak for her. And with her disappearance and the burning of her home come a whole new set of questions about the death of the first Mrs. Sweet years ago.
The mystery unfolding in suburban Detroit began with the disappearance of Lizzie Mae Collier-Sweet on January 8. That was the day the Sweet’s house burned down. The small home is in Brownstown Township, a working-class suburb south of Detroit, where many auto factory workers live.
The police are citing many reasons for concern:
- The Sweet’s marriage was disintegrating and they were estranged.
- Police were called to the home in December on a domestic violence call.
- Liz’s friends told police that Mr. Sweet threatened her with a handgun in November, and that Liz bought a 12-gauge shotgun to protect herself.
- In her diary, Liz wrote of her fear of her husband and wrote that she started keeping a hammer under her couch. Police found the hammer in her burned-out home just where she said she kept it.
- Her dentures were found in the home, and she wouldn’t have willingly left home without them.
- She hasn’t used her credit cards or cashed her last paycheck, and her Lincoln was still in the driveway.
Liz’s diary also revealed that she believed her husband was having sex with a woman who is mentally disabled. Now Mr. Sweet is in the county jail, not held on suspicion of murder, but on rape charges. He denies any wrongdoing and says his wife must have burned down the house and committed suicide elsewhere. Cadaver dogs and police search teams continue to look for Liz Sweet.
Meanwhile, police in another Detroit suburb, Farmington Hills, have questions of their own for Roger Sweet. In 1990, Mr. Sweet’s then-wife Marlene, 38, was found dead in their home. The funeral home that handled her burial contacted the medical examiner to report dark suspicions. But Marlene’s death was ruled accidental – a head injury brought on by a fall down the stairs. An autopsy report that is now being broadcast on local TV shows a diagram of multiple bruises and abrasions on the woman’s body, dozens from head to toe.
Did Roger Sweet push his luck?