Richland County, SC (WLTX) - Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said DNA evidence links missing Columbia teen Gabbiee Swainson and the man Lott believes kidnapped the girl.
Lott updated the search at a Friday afternoon news conference where Elvia Swainson, Gabbiee's mom, joined him.
"I haven't given up," Lott said. "We're not going to give up, not going to slow down one bit."
Swainson has not been seen since August 18th. Lott and his deputies say they believe she was taken in the middle of the night by 52-year-old Freddie Grant.
Grant's currently in the Lexington County jail on a federal ammunition charge.
Lott did not give much new information on the investigation itself, except for this new information: he said they've recovered a duct tape roll that has both Grant and Swainson's DNA on it. Weeks ago, Lott had said they'd found pieces of duct tape with Gabbiee's blood on it at Grant's home in Elgin.
So far, Lott said Grant has not been cooperative on telling them about Swainson's disappearance.
That's something even Elvia Swainson has pleaded for from Grant. She said Friday she's sent letters to Grant asking him for a face to face meeting.
"I need to ask him what he knows about Gabbiee," she said.
She's gotten no response.
In the weeks since her daughter's disappearance, Elvia Swainson has organized several community events to either look for Gabbiee or raise awareness.
"I do believe she is alive," she said.
To that end, this Sunday there will be a "Night of Hope" from 6-8 p.m. at the Village at Sandhill in northeast Richland County. Deputies will be giving parents information to prevent child abductions, and they'll of course be a focus on Gabbiee, complete with blue bracelets.
They're the same bracelets that have been sold to the public to raise money--about $2,500 so far. That money will be added to the $6,000 that's already been offered for information in this case.
"There's nothing too small to tell us," Lott said.
It's a shred of information Gabbiee's mom hopes someone will have. ""Please bring my child home."
Anyone with information should call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.