Command center documents every step in Swainson case

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It's a small, non-descript room inside the Richland County Sheriff's Department with a long, wooden table. The walls are decorated with information like maps and a dry erase board scribbled with notes.

It's the command center in the search for 15-year-old Gabbiee Swainson.

"This is where all the leads are sorted through. This is where assignments are made. What you're seeing now is typically what's been going on every day since she's been missing," said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.

Set up to specifically deal with the Swainson case, seven deputies, most from the major crimes unit, follow up on every phone call and tip.

"That one little detail that you may think is insignificant on the face of it may be what we nee, so there's nothing insignificant," Lott said.

The investigation is broken down into the search where they brought in 120 agents and combed wooded areas, and to the evidence building, where search warrants were executed and evidence like keys collected.

"One day we will go to court, and we got to prove our case and we got to show what evidence we have," Lott said.

The psychological part of a case like this is having a victim's advocate or the sheriff building a relationship with the victim, in this case Elvia Swainson.

"Last night, she called me at home, which is what I want here to do when she has questions and we talked," Lott said.

Three doctors working in the lab, one specifically dedicated to the Swainson case.

"To have it here in this building and the quick turn around just, I can't tell you how valuable that's been," Lott said. "Not to have to wait on somebody else."

As for the gag order looking to stop the sheriff from comments made in the case, he says every word he's said has been calculated.

"The things that I say are all designed to find Gabbiee," said Lott. "What I've said concerning Grant is what I feel, what's been proven from his previous activities, what he's done now, so I haven't embellished anything, told any lies or anything. I've told the truth, and I'll never stop telling the truth."

Nor will they stop working 24 hours a day, seven days a week until Gabbiee is found.

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