Roanoke doctor's sister first thought her brother's murder in Belize was a scam

The tour guide fishing with Swank was targeted

By Jessica Jewell - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

ROANOKE, Va. - An international murder with ripple effects here in the Roanoke Valley.

This tragedy is sending shock waves all across the country but really hitting home here in Roanoke.

This is where Dr. Gary Swank lived, worked and saved so many lives. But more than just a brilliant doctor, his sister Melanie Wilhelm says, he was a father, husband and a brother.

"My brother Gary, he was always the lucky one," said Wilhelm. "Growing up, everything came easy for him and always everything fell in line."

When she first learned of her brother's murder, she thought it was a scam.

"I almost didn't believe it," said Wilhelm, who found out through a text message from her sister-in-law.

The tour guide fishing with Swank was targeted and had an altercation with a notorious gang member just days before.

"He should have warned my brother. He shouldn't have taken him," said Wilhelm. "He was my big brother and he was my protector from the time I was born, for always."

Remembering the cardiologist for his heart while his family, including three young children, tries to process the hole left in theirs.

"I'm going to make sure they know that their dad is always with them and he loved them more than anything."

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