A reward of up to $1,000 was announced Friday for information in the death of Lois Swenson, 76, a northside Minneapolis woman known for her work on peace and justice issues who was found dead in her home June 13, 2012.
Her front door was locked at the time police found her body in her bedroom. An autopsy determined she had been beaten to death.
"Lois was one of the most amazing people that I've ever known," said Jan Swenson of Arena, Wis., her sister-in-law. "To have this happen to her is still unbelievable to us after a year and a half."
Swenson grew up in Arena, Wis., a small farming town near Madison before leaving to attend Luther College. She taught sixth grade in Robbinsdale, occasionally taking long leaves of absence to travel the world. Her travels put her in touch with people who lived in extreme poverty, and influenced her views on life, said Swenson.
She was known for working on peace and justice issues and took in boarders and helped refugees who were resettling. She was also a diligent gardener, the front yard of her house ablaze with flowers each summer. She championed community gardens.
Friends of Lois Swenson's put together a website, loisswenson.com, with memorials, links to media stories about her life and death, and photos.
"Because she was such a champion of justice and to see that she hasn't herself had justice in her death has been hard," said Sonya Forseth, a lifelong friend of Swenson's.
Hundreds of people held a vigil at her house after her death, and nearly 1,000 attended her funeral service, said her brother, Dean Swenson, Jan's husband.
"One of the things that has been bothering me ever since this happened is that question of 'Why?" said Dean Swenson. "Why would someone take the life of Lois? In my mind it was such a callous and cowardly act that brought her life to an end."
Anyone with information on her case should contact Crime Stoppers of Minnesota at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or go to the Crime Stoppers website at crimestoppersmn.org and click on "Give a Tip." People with information can also send a text to Crime Stoppers at 274637. Start the text with "TIP674" and then add your information. Tips can also go the Minneapolis Police Department by texting "MPD" and the information to 847411.
Speaking Friday, Jan Swenson said her family hopes to find justice for Lois.
"This would be the greatest Christmas gift we could get," she said.