In a recent press conference regarding the abduction of 15-year-old Gabrielle Swainson, daughter of OOIDA Member Alvin Thompson, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told reporters that the suspect who allegedly kidnapped the girl joined in on the search effort, handed out flyers, and even walked with Gabrielle’s mother during the search.
“He did what everybody else was doing, knowing all the while that he was the one responsible for taking her and concealing her from us.”
52-year-old Freddie Grant, of Elgin, SC is accused of forcibly taking Gabrielle in the early hours of August 18th. Sheriff Lott says that DNA and cell phone records indicate that Gabrielle was at Grant’s home immediately following her disappearance and that there is “clear evidence of foul play.” Grant’s previous criminal record includes possession with intent to distribute crack, domestic violence, and insurance fraud.
Grant gained access to the house without any sign of forced entry. Gabrielle’s mother gave Grant a house key six weeks ago when he was doing floor work on their home. He then repeatedly lied, saying that he had lost the key.
Grant is being held without bond on kidnapping and weapons charges. Even before Grant was a suspect, officers took note of him refusing to cooperate with the police from the “very first second.” Lott said, “We just wanted to talk to him. That was part of people we were asking, trying to get information. The very first thing out of his mouth was ‘I’m not talking. Talk to my attorney.’”
When he became a suspect and police did contact his attorney, they received a letter stating that they were “not to talk to him or have anything to do with him whatsoever.” Police have not been able to talk with Grant, have an interview or an interrogation. Given his lack of cooperation, police have asked for the public to lend a hand with the investigation. Gabrielle is a 5-foot, 2-inch tall black female with black hair. She was last seen wearing pink and black pajamas.
The public has also been asked to inform the police if they may have seen Grant’s 1992 light blue Ford Escort between Friday, Aug. 17, and Saturday morning. Grant’s movements during that time are unknown, and police believe that may have been the only time he had the opportunity to hide the girl somewhere.
In addition to this crime, Grant is being investigated for two additional unsolved crimes. In 2011, a woman went missing in Elgin who looked similar to Gabrielle. According to Sheriff Lott, the last place she was seen was Grant’s house. “She’s disappeared off the face of the earth.” Grant is also a suspect in the 2011 murder of a man in a town nearby.
The FBI and numerous other agencies are assisting the Richland County police in Gabrielle’s case.
Lott said tips are still coming in and he still has hopes of bring the girl home. Anyone with information should call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.