COLUMBIA, SC — The father of missing 15-year-old Gabrielle Swainson said Tuesday the law is catching up with her accused kidnapper, but he wishes the man would tell authorities where his daughter is.
“I don’t think she’s alive,” said Alvin Thompson, the father, who lives in Virginia. “There’s been too much time.”
That “man” is Freddie Grant of Elgin, who was convicted Tuesday by a federal jury on a charge of being a felon in possession of ammunition.
Grant will be sentenced in April, when Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey Haynes will ask a judge to enhance Grant’s punishment because he is an armed career criminal. The maximum penalty would be life in prison.
Grant’s criminal record includes convictions for assault and kidnapping while he was a soldier in Korea and for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute in South Carolina.
Grant has been charged by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department with kidnapping in Swainson’s Aug. 18 disappearance, and he is a suspect in the disappearance of 28-year-old Adrianna Laster, a woman who lived with him but has not been seen since fall 2011. The ammunition was found in his home as police searched for evidence in Swainson’s case.
John Delgado, Grant’s defense attorney, said he would appeal the verdict based on the judge’s decision to uphold the search warrant that led to the discovery of the ammunition. Delgado had argued that the sheriff’s department illegally obtained the warrant, but U.S. District Judge Cameron McGowan Currie ruled it was valid.
Investigators found .38-caliber bullets in a nightstand and shotgun shells on the bottom shelf of an end table as they searched Grant’s fire-damaged home where clothes, wood, cups and other debris were strewn.
Dominique Grant, the suspect’s 27-year-old daughter, testified that she brought the ammo to her father’s house to store it. But she admitted that she did not leave the ammunition in the places where investigators found it.
A jury deliberated about three hours before reaching the guilty verdict. Thompson attended the trial Monday and waited outside the courtroom as the jury deliberated. Elvia Swainson, Gabrielle’s mother and Grant’s former girlfriend, did not attend.
With the cloud of two missing girls over him, it’s about time Grant pays for his criminal past, Thompson said.
“This guy has escaped the legal system for a long time,” he said.
Mostly, Thompson wants to find his daughter.
“I’m a grown man, but I sit and cry because I don’t know where my daughter is,” he said. “There is just one person who knows where she is at, and that’s the man who was convicted on the ammunition charge. But it won’t bring my daughter back.”
Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8307.