The Richland County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a man linked to the disappearance of 15-year-old Gabrielle Swainson, but deputies still have not found the teen missing since August 18.
Sheriff Leon Lott said Tuesday that deputies have arrested 52-year-old Freddie Grant of Elgin and charged him with kidnapping. Grant is an acquaintance of Swainson’s mother who does yard work at their home. Lott said that Grant had cut the Swainsons’ grass the evening before Gabbie’s disappearance.
Gabrielle’s mother said she last the teen in bed around 3 a.m. August 18 before she left early for her job that morning. The teen was supposed to start her freshman year at Ridge View High School in northeast Richland County last week.
Lott said investigators were able to track Gabbie’s cell phone to the Elgin area. Officers said they found her DNA on several items in Grant’s home. Grant was arrested Sunday after Lott said deputies found ammunition in his house. Since the Elgin man is a convicted felon, he is not allowed to possess weapons.
Lott said Grant has a prior record. He is also being questioned about a Florida woman missing since last September. 18-year-old Adriana Laster was last seen with Grant on September 3. Officers say the Elgin man is not cooperating with them.
Richland County deputies believe Grant kidnapped the teen. “She was forcibly taken from that home,” Lott told reporters Tuesday. He adds officials are now searching a junkyard located across the street from Grant’s home.
More than 120 federal and local officers are now assisting in the search, including the FBI, the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office, and the Elgin Police Department.