The Herald, Sharon, PA Published Wednesday, June 12, 2002


Pratt brother working to keep Swiger behind bars

By Tom Fontaine
Herald Staff Writer

The brother of former Thiel College student Roger "Butch" Pratt plans to collect signatures and circulate petitions in Greenville on Monday in an effort to prevent the early prison release of one of the people behind his brother's brutal 1988 murder.

Michael Pratt of Warren, Ohio, said he will be at Central Park from "noon until whenever" on Monday, the 14th anniversary of the murder.

The signatures and statements gathered by Pratt will be submitted to the Ohio State Parole Board, which plans to consider the early release of Michael A. Swiger in September.

Swiger was convicted in 1990 of involuntary manslaughter and kidnapping for his role in Butch Pratt's murder and sentenced to 21 to 53 years in Ohio state prison. Pratt was beaten to death in a field near Hudson, Ohio, and later buried in a shallow grave outside Jamestown.

Two others were convicted in Ohio for their roles in the killing: Swiger's older brother Edward -- who had been Butch Pratt's best friend at Thiel -- is serving a life sentence for beating Pratt to death; and Linda Karlen, formerly of Hempfield Township and Sharon, who was sentenced to 7 to 15 years for helping lure Pratt to the Ohio field where he was murdered.

All three face prison time in Pennsylvania upon their potential release from prison in Ohio.

The Swiger brothers and Karlen had feared Butch Pratt would implicate Edward in two burglaries of Thiel fraternities and both brothers in the 1988 arson of a Greenville furniture store. Both Swigers and Karlen were convicted in connection with that fire.

This will be the fourth petition drive by the Pratt family to keep those connected to the murder behind bars.

Michael Swiger requested clemency four years after he was convicted, while Ms. Karlen has been denied parole twice, Michael Pratt said. Edward Swiger won't be eligible for parole in Ohio until 2033 at the earliest, he added.

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