Memorial planned for Gabrielle Swainson

dprice@thestate.comAugust 12, 2013 

Memorial services have been planned for Gabrielle Swainson, the Richland County teen whose body was found buried outside Elgin last week, a year to the day after she was snatched from her bed.

According to Gabrielle’s aunt Tara Swainson, services will be held at 6 p.m. Sunday at Right Direction Church International on Broad River Road, where Gabrielle once sang and played guitar. The service, which is open to the public, will mark the one-year anniversary of the girl’s disappearance.

Sunday’s memorial isn’t the only remembrance for a community reeling from the girl’s death. The town of Elgin is planning a candlelight vigil for the girl at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday at Town Square.

Gabrielle was taken from her Northeast Richland home in the early-morning hours of Aug. 18, 2012, and wasn’t seen alive again. A massive search effort in Elgin a few days after her disappearance didn’t turn up any sign of the then-15-year-old aside from a few pieces of duct tape with her blood and hair on them. One of those pieces was found in suspect Freddie Grant’s home, and another in a junkyard nearby.

Grant was charged in the girl’s kidnapping in late August and would not give any information on the girl’s whereabouts until last week, when he made a deal to have charges against his daughter, 27-year-old Dominique Grant, dismissed. Dominique Grant was arrested after being accused of helping her father cover up Gabrielle’s disappearance.

As part of that deal, Freddie Grant, currently serving a 17-year sentence on federal ammunition charges, was flown from a prison in Kentucky to the Midlands Thursday, where he showed investigators where Gabrielle was buried.

The girl’s body was found in a 5-foot-deep hole.

Grant on Friday was charged with murder in the girl’s death and is expected to appear in court sometime this week.

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