Sheriff accuses suspect of being "monster" for taking part in search for missing teen

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COLUMBIA — A man charged with kidnapping a 15-year-old South Carolina girl is “a monster” who pretended to help look for her, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Thursday.

The sheriff said he has no new information on the whereabouts of Gabrielle Swainson, who has been missing since Aug. 18.

Lott asked the public to share any leads, including information about who might have employed Freddie Grant, 52, or was familiar with any of the places he went.

Citing television footage of Grant participating in the search forGabrielle, the sheriff said, “It makes me sick to my stomach to know that he was part of that.”

The sheriff added, “He’s a monster.”

Grant did yardwork and dated the girl’s mother. After the high school sophomore’s blood was found on duct tape near Grant’s home, he was charged with kidnapping her. He is being held without bond at the county jail.

Lott said he has been frustrated about the case and said Grant has information that he has not given authorities.

“I’m appealing to him, monster that he is, for God’s sake, to tell us where she’s at,” the sheriff said.

Grant asked to speak with an attorney as soon as officials attempted to question him about the girl’s whereabouts, so no interrogation has taken place, the sheriff said.

A call to Grant’s attorney at the Richland County Public Defender’s Office was not immediately returned.

The girl’s mother has handed out hundreds of fliers and stopped traffic near her home to ask drivers whether anyone had seen her daughter.

Lott said Grant apparently appeared on the scene to help with the search not long after the girl’s mother called police to report her missing.

“Until I know something different, she’s alive in my mind and my heart,” Lott said of the teen. He said authorities have searched landfills in a two-county region and in many areas near her Columbia home, both from the ground and the air.

The sheriff said Grant also is being investigated in a woman’s disappearance in March, in addition to an unsolved homicide from October 2011. Both of those cases were in nearby Kershaw County.


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