FBI joins search for missing 15-year-old
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Federal Bureau of Investigation has joined the efforts to find 15-year-old Gabrielle Swainson.
It has been almost a week since Swainson was reported missing from her northeast Columbia home.
Gabbiee's mother Elvia says she returned to her Tamara Way home from work around 7 a.m. Saturday to Gabbiee's alarm clock going off, but no Gabbiee.
"I didn't see her in her bed. I panicked. I froze for a moment," Elvia said.
Elvia says her daughter would never run away from home. She didn't take her keys or her purse.
Investigators say the only thing missing from the home is Gabbiee's cell phone. They have not said if that phone or its signal has been located.
Since the teenager vanished Elvia Swainson has filed a police report, hired a private investigator, and continued to search on her own.
According to the Richland County Sheriff's Department, the FBI has now volunteered to assist with the investigation.
Thursday was supposed to be Swainson's first day of school, but she was noticeably absent.
The excitement at Ridge View High School was tempered a bit by the ongoing search for Swainson, who had just made the JV cheerleading squad.
Principal Marty Martin says the excitement of the first day has been tempered by the questions everyone keeps asking.
"You have that constant little worry that's flowing through your head all the time," said Martin. "Where is she? Is she okay? Is she going to show up? When is that going to occur? What else could we do?"
Hundreds of volunteers have been going door-to-door to homes and businesses to make sure people recognize and remember Swainson.
Drivers in the Summitt were getting stopped for a flier of information about Gabbiee.
"We're doing everything possible that we can think of to bring my baby home," said Elvia. "I believe she is still alive."
"We've been calling and texting and at this point, nothing," Elvia said. "The phone is going straight to voicemail."
Elvia has been canvassing neighborhoods since Saturday.
"I'm on autopilot, I have to bring my baby home," said Elvia. "I look this way now, but at night I can't sleep. I'm driving around in my car yelling her name out."
While she's been looking for some sign of her only child, the community gathered in church to pray for Gabbiee's safe return.
Elvia's private investigator, Chandra Cleveland-Jennings, says every minute Gabbiee is missing matters.
"You better listen up. If you have a teenage daughter or a son and they go missing, it's usually classified as a runaway, and if you don't take matters into your own hands sooner than later, then your efforts may be in vain, and we just hope our efforts won't be in vain," Cleveland-Jennings said.
The Richland County Sheriff's department has been working this case as well. They say there are no signs of foul play. The investigator says she's checked all the social media sites and her computer, but have found no credible tips.
Gabbiee is 5'2" tall, has black hair, and was last seen wearing pink and black pajamas.
If you have any information that can help, please call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.
Copyright 2012 WIS. All rights reserved.