After nearly a year of searching, Gabrielle “Gabbiee” Swainson’s body has been found.
Richland County sheriff Leon Lott announced that the man accused of kidnapping the 15-year-old girl from her mother’s home in Elgin, S.C., led authorities to a remote area in Elgin where he’d buried her remains.
“This has been 357 days of terror that Gabbiee’s mother and family have endured, that this community has endured,” Lott said during a press conference that was broadcast on Columbia’s WLTX. “It’s not the way we’d have liked this to end. We’d like to have found Gabbiee and brought her home to her Mama, but we have some closure.”
The suspect, 52-year-old Freddie Grant, of Elgin, had dated Swainson’s mother and became a suspect when he refused to answer basic questions from police. Grant is also a suspect in the disappearance of a Homestead, FL, woman who was last seen at his home in September 2011. He is also a suspect in the murder of a Kershaw County man in October 2011.
“This was a case where it wasn’t a whodunit,” Lott said. “Almost immediately, we were able to determine it was Freddie Grant who grabbed Gabbiee. The challenge was that we hadn’t found Gabbiee.”
Lott said the area where the body was found was an area that had been searched “many, many times.
“The way she was concealed, you just wouldn’t know,” he said. “The type of hole he dug … the depth … There was just no way we would’ve been able to find it without somebody doing what he did, and that’s Freddie Grant taking us out there and saying, ‘That’s where I buried her.’”
The sheriff said Freddie Grant had repeatedly refused any offers to take investigators to Gabbiee’s remains, until last month, when his own daughter, 27-year-old Dominique Grant was arrested and charged with being an accessory to the crime.
“I don’t want anybody to think that he did this out of his conscience, or he felt bad for Gabbiee,” Lott said. “He didn’t do that. He did it solely because his daughter was arrested and facing some serious jail time.”
The charges against Dominique Grant stem from the June 18 recovery of Swainson’s cell phone behind a Piggly Wiggly Grocery Store in Myrtle Beach by a delivery driver. The sheriff has previously stated that Dominique Grant “placed the phone there with the sole purpose of planting evidence to throw off the investigation.” The sheriff has also stated that the investigation into the cell phone determined that Dominique Grant was in Myrtle Beach days before the phone was recovered.
This is not the first time the younger Grant has been accused of covering for her father.
Freddie Grant was convicted on Jan. 15 of a federal charge of unlawful ammunition possession, which stemmed from a police search of his home related to the kidnapping investigation. During that trial, Dominique Grant testified that the bullets and shells were hers and that she kept them in bags and boxes when she visited the home. She was later chastised by the federal court for lying about the investigation and for her efforts to harm the investigation.
Freddie Grant was serving time in a federal prison in Kentucky on the ammunition possession charge, when a team of investigators from Richland County flew by a state-owned jet to the facility and secured his release on Thursday morning to assist with the search.
Lott said Grant remains in custody in Richland County, pending the filing of murder charges. A reduced charge was never part of the negotiations according to Lott. He declined to comment about whether or not charges would be reduced against Dominique Grant.
Gabbiee is the daughter of OOIDA Member Alvin Thompson, who lives in Virginia. Thompson could not be reached for comment Friday.
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