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Caretaker Gets Life Sentence

August 28, 1999

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) _ A woman who admitted setting fire to a 75-year-old man she was entrusted to care for, hacking him apart with an ax and scattering pieces of his body in the woods, avoided the death penalty by pleading no contest in exchange for a life sentence.

Nora Swails, 50, received the no-parole sentence Friday. She was charged with killing retired Air Force Lt. Col. Cornell Christenson. Neighbors who noticed he failed to take down his flag last Veterans Day reported him missing.

Swails later led police to some of his dismembered remains.

She worked for Christenson and his 77-year-old wife, Shirley, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Mrs. Christenson died of a stroke a week after her husband’s remains were found, a death police believe Swails caused with unneeded insulin injections.

Swails was not charged in Mrs. Christenson’s death. She meant to profit from Christenson’s death after forging his name on a traveler’s check, a personal check and the title to his car, Escambia County sheriff’s investigator Frank Fillingim said.

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