Sherff Leon Lott: 'We Have Not Found Gabbiee Swainson"

5:24 PM, Aug 30, 2012   |    comments
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Richland County, SC (WLTX) - Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott updated the search for 15-year-old Gabbiee Swainson Thursday, saying his officers still have not found the girl.

Lott made his statements at a news conference Thursday morning, where he admitted he's frustrated by the lack of cooperation from the suspect, 52-year-old Freddie Grant.

Previous Coverage: Grant Arrested in Kidnapping of Gabbiee | Town in Shock Over Missing Teen Case

"I'm appealing to him, monster that he is...for God's sake tell us where she is," Lott said. "He can stop the pain and the tears in Gabbiee's mother's eyes. He's the one who can do that."

Lott said Grant has refused to talk.  He says Grant sent law enforcement a letter through his public defender asking to be left alone unless necessary. 

According to Lott, Grant has not cooperated with investigators from beginning, even before he became a main suspect.  Despite the setback, Lott said his officers are doing everything they can on their own to find her.

"We continue to operate that Gabbiee is alive and well, and we have to find her," Lott said.

To that end, Lott released a photograph of the pajamas they believe Gabbiee may have been wearing when she was taken. He also told reporters that Grant was driving a 1992 Ford Escort that was light blue in color, that they think he used when he took the girl.  Lott said his officers have that vehicle in custody, but they're asking anyone to come forward that may have seen it driving around the area on the days since Gabbiee was reported missing.

Crews have been searching for Swainson at a junkyard across the street from Grant's home in Elgin.  Lott says they're continuing to search by air and by land in Richland and Kershaw Counties.  He says they are still working with the FBI and other local agencies.

Wednesday, a News19 photojournalist recalled seeing Grant as part of the search effort in video that he photographed. The images show Grant walking side-by-side with other searchers, including the girl's mother.

"It makes me sick to my stomach to be able to see that, knowing that he was the one responsible for her abduction, and he's out there pretending like he's trying to help. Lott said. "To me that's awful."  Related Coverage: Grant Seen on Tape Searching for Swainson

Swainson was last seen on August 18 when her mother left for work.

Investigators have concluded that Grant entered the home after the mother left. Once inside, investigators say he took Gabbiee against her will, then drove her to his home.

Lott said this week they found Gabbiee's blood on duct tape and other DNA evidence linking him to the crime at Grant's home.

Information from cell phone towers received from Swainson's cell phone, investigators say, has provided tracking information which has allowed them to pinpoint the route they took. The phone itself has not been recovered.

Grant was working as a truck driver, but Lott says he doesn't believe Grant took her out of the area, because of the tight timeline he was operating on.

According to investigators and family, Grant was the boyfriend of Swainson's mother, but Lott has stressed that the mother did nothing wrong, and that Grant took advantage of the situation.

"She can not be blamed for this," Lott said. "She did what all she could to protect her daughter...As a parent I can only imagine the pain and suffering she is going through at this point."

A records report from the State Law Enforcement Division shows Grant has an extensive criminal past. Lott said Grant also may be connected the disappearance of 29-year-old Adrianna Laster of Elgin last fall.  Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews says Grant is a person of interest in the shooting death of 37-year-old Danny Wood last October.

"He's a monster, there's no telling of what he's done in the past," Lott said. "Our priority right now is finding Gabbiee."

Lott says anyone wanted to help search for Gabbiee should contact the Richland County Sheriff's Office to coordinate to help maintain the integrity of the case they hope to bring against Grant later.

"We're gonna go to court one day and we want to make sure we have the evidence in a proper way so we're asking people, that's why searches need to be coordinated with us. I'm not gonna ask people not to get out here and search we want people to help, we're just asking coordinated with us, we don't need someone to go out here and be a hero we just need to fine her," said Lott.

Anyone with information should call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.


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