Sheriff Leon Lott: Gabbiee's blood found in her bedroom - - Columbia, South Carolina

Lott: Gabbiee's blood found in her bedroom

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    Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Thursday morning that investigators have not yet found Gabrielle Swainson, but bringing her home remains his number one priority. More >>
    Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Thursday morning that investigators have not yet found Gabrielle Swainson, but bringing her home remains his number one priority. Deputies also released a picture of a set of pajamas that are similar to the clothing Gabbiee was wearing the morning she disappeared.More >>

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Investigators say blood belonging to missing 15-year-old Gabbiee Swainson was found in her bedroom.

During a Friday afternoon news conference, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told reporters that in addition to finding the blood in her room they also found her DNA on a piece of duct tape.  That tape was located in a junk yard near Freddie Grant's home.

Investigators also found strands of Gabbiee's hair in Grant's home, according to Sheriff Leon Lott.

Also, the attorney for kidnapping suspect Freddie Grant wants a gag order on the case of the missing teen.

The frustration continues for FBI agents and Sheriff's Investigators as hundreds of tips still haven't produced any sign of Gabbiee.

It's been an emotional two weeks for Gabbiee's family, there's frustration on the part of law enforcement that the one man who may know where she is, remains tight lipped.

Swainson was last seen in the early morning hours of Saturday, August 18th.

"At night I can't even sleep, I am driving around in my car, yelling her name," said Elvia Swainson. 

By Tuesday, the Richland County Sheriff's Office issued an advisory.  They didn't suspect foul play, but Gabbiee wasn't your traditional run away.

"We're getting leads, we have lots of active leads," said Sheriff Lott.

By week's end it was a different story.  Investigators were calling in the FBI and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  

Sheriff Lott sat down with WIS saying, they'd changed their mind about foul play.

"I don't feel like she left on her own," said Sheriff Lott. "This is totally out of character for her, this is not the type of girl who would leave on her own."

Sunday investigators executed a search warrant  in Elgin. 

It was Gabbiee's mother's boyfriend, Freddie Grant's home. Grant was arrested on federal weapons charges. 

By Tuesday, a warrant charged him with kidnapping Gabbiee.  Cell phone technology put him at the house and duct tape with her blood was found near his property. 

By afternoon, 120 deputies and FBI agents searched wooded areas between the two homes. 

The focus of the investigation remains on 52-year-old Freddie Grant. "We know who has the key to finding her," Sheriff Lott said on Thursday.

Lott believes Grant abducted Gabbiee from her Tamara Way home during the early morning hours of August 18 while her mother was at work. Investigators have been able to track Gabbiee's cell phone to Grant's home, the sheriff said. That phone has not yet been located.

In the days after Gabbiee's disappearance, her mother Elvia Swainson organized several searches and informational efforts to bring attention to the missing teen.

During one or more of those early searches, Lott said Grant actually joined in on the effort to help find her. Lott said Swainson called Grant for help and he showed up shortly after that call.

"He walked and handed out flyers and did what everybody else was doing," said Lott. "That makes me sick to my stomach."

Grant, according to Lott, has refused to talk to investigators from the beginning. "The first thing out of his mouth was 'I'm not talking. Talk to my attorney,'" said Lott.

Attorneys for the suspect are currently not letting detectives talk to him. "There's never been an interview," said the sheriff. "There's never been an interrogation."

Grant's vehicle, a light blue 1992 Ford Escort, has been impounded. Lott said investigators believe he used that vehicle to abduct Gabbiee.

"We asking anybody that may have seen [the vehicle] from Friday to Saturday morning to give us a call," said Lott.

The sheriff added that investigators are working to identify anyone who may have employed Freddie Grant. Lott said Grant may have worked as a landscaper or handy-man and has driven trucks in and around the Midlands.

"Those he worked for may have valuable information on Grant's behaviors, habits, tendencies or places he frequented," said Lott.

Lott is also asking anyone who Grant may have worked for or may have had contact with Grant to contact the department's Criminal Investigations Unit at 803-576-3187.

According to Lott, Grant was currently working as a truck driver, but the sheriff doesn't think he had time to take Gabbiee hundreds of miles away. They're still focusing the search in the Elgin area, the area near Elvia Swainson's Northeast Columbia home, and all areas in between.

"We don't believe he went out of state," said Lott. "There's a time frame there that nobody could find him. He hid her somewhere."

The sheriff's department on Thursday also released a picture of the same pajamas Gabbiee was wearing when she was taken from her home. Investigators hope that somebody may have seen her.

Lott stressed to the community that all searches should be coordinated through the sheriff's department.

Investigators are still getting tips and hope to continue receiving them. "It doesn't matter how small or insignificant it may seem," said Lott. "We want people to call us. We're going to follow-up on every single lead or tip that we get."

"My nine year old daughter says the same thing, she asked me the other morning, 'Daddy why can't you make him tell where Gabbiee's at,' we can't do that," said Lott. "We can't be like Jack Bauer on 24 or Stephen Garrett on Hawaii 5-0 and make someone tell, I wish we could, but we can't."

Meanwhile, Gabbiee's mother is holding out hope that her only child will be found safe.

Swainson said late Tuesday that she is upset, but is not giving up on her daughter.

"In this time, in this moment, it's gotten a little harder for me and I am still staying strong through God that's the only person that's helping me stay strong," said Swainson.

Lott reiterated Thursday that Swainson should not be blamed for her daughter's disappearance.

"She can't be blamed for this," said Lott. "She had no idea that the monster that was her acquaintance would do what he did."

Speaking directly to Grant, the sheriff pleaded for him to help "remove the tears from Gabbiee's mother's eyes." "For God sakes, tell us where she's at," said Lott as he concluded the new conference.

The Kershaw County Sheriff's Department, Elgin Police Department and FBI are all assisting in the investigation.

If you know anything about Gabbiee Swainson's disappearance, you are urged to call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.

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