PUBLISHED: 23:16 EST, 25 August 2012 | UPDATED: 23:29 EST, 25 August 2012
- Gabrielle Swainson, 15, disappeared on August 15
- She had never run away and reportedly had no reason to abscond
- Mother, who went to work, left the teen alone at home for the very first time
- Nothing was missing, aside from her cell phone
A Life of Promise: Gabrielle Swaison,15, is an honor roll student and cheerleader at Ridge View High School in South Carolina. She is also a guitar player and tap-dancing virtuoso
A teenage South Carolina cheerleader has vanished from her home in a mysterious circumstances that have baffled authorities.
The FBI has joined the hunt for Gabrielle Swainson, a 15-year-old Ridge View High School honor roll student, guitar player and tap-dancing virtuoso who disappeared from her second-story bedroom during in the early hours of August 15.
Elvia Swainson, Gabrielle’s mother, has reportedly said that she woke her only child just prior to leaving for work around 3:30 am on the morning in question, gave her daughter her cell phone, and watched as the young girl rolled over in bed and fell back to sleep.
It was the first time that Elvia Swanson had ever left her daughter alone in the house that early in the morning. The pair had reportedly stayed up ‘really’ late the night prior watching movies and riding out a late-night thunderstorm.
When Elvia Swanson reportedly returned from her office around 7:30 am she said her daughter’s bed – as well as their house at 221 Tamara Way – was devoid of any sign of the 5-foot-2-inch tall African-American girl with black hair.
The panicked mother said she found none of her daughter’s clothes – or other personal affects – missing from her room, or the house. Those possessions include her purse, as well as her cell phone’s charger.
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Missing: The FBI has joined in the hunt for the missing teen, who disappeared on Aug. 15 from her Ridge View home
The Homestead: The Swainson’s home located in the 100-house North Crossing neighbourhood, about a mile from the Village at Sandhill mall. It also backs up to the Clemson Institute for Economic and Community Development campus off Clemson Road
Besides her daughter, the only other thing missing from the room was the actual cell phone, which Elvia Swanson immediately tried dialing. The phone, she has reportedly said, eerily rang a few times and then stopped during that initial attempt, and then, on successive attempts, went directly to voicemail.
‘I panicked,’ Swainson told The State of south Carolina. ‘My first thought was someone came in here and took my child, she’s not normally up this early.’
A neighbour who lives across the street from the Swainsons said Elvia Swainson came to his house about 7:15 a.m. Saturday to ask if he’d seen her daughter.
“She (Elvia Swainson) was upset,” Robert Platts, 49, told The State.
A Mom’s Heartbreak:The girl’s mother, Elvia Swainson (pictured), woke her daughter around 3:30 a.m. and gave her a cell phone before leaving for work. Her daughter rolled over and went back to sleep
Four Hour Window: Gabrielle’s mother returned home around 7:30 a.m. and found her daughter’s bed empty, as well as the cell phone gone. No other personal affects, including her purse and wallet, had disappeared
Eerie Moments: Elvia Swainson called her daughter’s cell phone and listened to it ring several times before it stopped. Successive calls went directly to voicemail
Platts, who with his wife, Tammy, has reportedly known the Swainsons for years said mother and daughter were always together and tose times in the afternoon when Gabrielle was home alone, she sometimes had girlfriends over – but that was it.
The Swainson’s house, located in the 100-house North Crossing neighbourhood, is within a mile of the Village at Sandhill mall. The State reports that the neighbourhood also backs up to the sprawling, mostly undeveloped Clemson Institute for Economic and Community Development campus off Clemson Road.
Gabrielle has never run away, her mother told The State, and she didn’t think her daughter had any reason to vanish of her own accord on that particular Saturday.
The teen had reportedly just made Ridge View High’s junior-varsity cheerleading team, and she was excited to start her sophomore year of classes Thursday, the mother has reportedly said.
‘I just want my daughter back,’ Elvia Swanson told The State.
Now the entire community, as well as local police – and the FBI – have joined the hunt for the missing girl.
A Morning of Firsts: The 15-year-old girl had never run away from home before, and had never been left alone that early in the morning by her mother
A Community Mobilized: Loved ones and friends have taken to the streets to hand out leaflets with Gabrielle’s photo. The teen was days away from starting her sophomore year in high school
In addition to handing out leaflets and flyers, community members have donated $6,000 for information leading investigators to Swainson or to the arrest of anyone involved in her disappearance, The State reported.
Of the $6,000 in reward money offered, $2,500 is from an anonymous donor and another $1,000 comes from CrimeStoppers.
‘I would never wish this on any family,’ Gabrielle’s aunt, Tara Swainson, told the State. ‘You don’t know how to cope.’
The South Carolina paper reports that The Richland County Sheriff has activated his major crimes unit – a team of veteran investigators that had replaced the missing persons unit that initially handled the case.
A Major Crime: The Richland County Sheriff has activated his major crimes unit ¿ a team of veteran investigators that had replaced the missing persons unit that initially handled the case
Sheriff Leon Lott told The State he is highly concerned about the 15-year-old girl’s vanishing with no trace.
‘We’ve put our best people on this,” Lott reportedly said in an interview. ‘We’re going to work this like it’s something bad, in hopes that it turns out to be something good.’
The family has also hired a private investigator to aid in the hunt.
Chandra Cleveland-Jennings tells ABC News, ‘Her purse was still there with her charger for her phone in it and all the ingredients of her purse like her wallet and her credit card, everything is still there.’
Cleveland-Jennings also told ABC News there has been no activity on the teen’s phone since her disappearance. Police have reportedly not said whether they have been able to locate a signal from the phone.