Gabrielle Swainson: Freddie Grant charged with kidnapping missing SC teen, sheriff hopeful she's alive
(CBS/AP) COLUMBIA, S.C. - Investigators charged Freddie Grant with kidnapping in the disappearance of 15-year-old Gabrielle "Gabbiee" Swainson after her blood was found on duct tape near his home, authorities said Tuesday.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said 52-year-old Grant was a family acquaintance and did yard work for the Swainson family.
The sheriff was holding out hope that Gabbiee will be found alive, and more than 100 officers are combing through a junkyard across from the suspect's home in Elgin on Tuesday looking for the missing teen.
"I haven't given up hope of finding her and bringing her home. That's what we're operating under, that she can be found," Lott said. "He's only charged with kidnapping."
Grant was uncooperative when investigators first asked him if he knew where Gabbiee was, and hadn't been any more helpful since he was charged with kidnapping on Monday.
Gabbiee was last seen by her mother around 4 a.m. on Aug. 18 asleep in her bed. Her mother said Gabbiee was gone when she returned home from work several hours later. All the teen's clothes, her purse and her cellphone charger were still in the home, authorities said.
Investigators began questioning the family and anyone who knew the girl. Grant was an obvious target because he was a convicted felon and deputies became even more suspicious when he refused to cooperate, Lott said.
Bullets were found in Grant's home, leading to a federal weapons charge. Additional searches uncovered his DNA and Gabbiee's DNA on duct tape with blood on it found near his house, the sheriff said.
Grant is being held without bail at the Lexington County jail.
Lott said investigators are checking to see whether Grant is involved in the disappearance of a 28-year-old woman last year.
Investigators said Adriana Laster, who lived with Grant in Elgin, has been missing for nearly a year. Laster disappeared in September 2011, but wasn't reported missing until March of this year by her grandmother in Homestead, Fla., Elgin Police Chief Harold Brown said.
Grant and Laster lived together and had a troubled relationship. Brown said his officers were called to their home several times, culminating in an April 2011 charge of criminal domestic violence against Grant. Police pressed forward with the misdemeanor even though Laster asked them to drop the case. Grant was convicted and paid a fine, Brown said.
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