ELGIN, SC (WIS) - University of South Carolina researchers and students on Tuesday joined representatives from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the Kershaw County Coroner's Office to look for evidence that a missing woman may have been buried in the same area where Freddie Grant hid Gabbiee Swainson's body for almost a year.
The search for 28-year-old Adriana Laster, a woman last seen with Grant, took place on heavily wooded property behind the Blaney Fire Station. The dry weather allowed those taking part in the exploration to work with ground that was not saturated, said Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews.
A family member in Homestead, Florida reported Laster missing in March 2012.
Law enforcement officers immediately felt it was more than a coincidence Laster disappeared after being in the company of Grant, whom, at the time, was considered the only suspect in the disappearance of another young woman, 15-year-old Gabrielle Swainson.
"Adriana Laster was apparently at one time Freddie Grant's girlfriend," said Matthews. "Our information is that he suspected her of having a relationship with another guy and shortly after that happened, she disappeared."
Grant and Laster were last seen together on Sept. 3, 2011 in Elgin.
"No sign of her anywhere," said Matthews. "So, I think a prudent person would come to the conclusion that maybe she met the same fate as Gabbiee Swainson."
On Aug. 8, Grant led authorities to Swainson's body on the property off of U.S. 1 in Elgin, which is not far from the murderer's home.
A USC anthropologist and some students went to the area Tuesday to help law enforcement by using some high-tech equipment that uses ground-penetrating radar.
"We have no indication that Laster was in that area. But, since Freddie Grant is familiar with the area and since he did bury one young girl there, it seems reasonable that we might give it a second look," said Matthews. "What we used before -- dogs and humans -- didn't work, and so we're trying something else. We're using this high-tech equipment that we hope will be able to uncover a gravesite."
Laster is described as a black female, standing 5'4", weighing 120 pounds. She has black hair and brown eyes.
Grant has not been charged in Laster's disappearance. Less than a week after admitting to killing and burying Gabbiee Swainson, Grant agreed to plead guilty and accept concurrent sentences of 30 years on charges of kidnapping and murder with no chance for parole.
If you know anything about the whereabouts of Adriana Laster, you are urged to call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.