Faye Marie Swetlik was the 6-year-old girl from Cayce, South Carolina, who disappeared after getting home from school on Monday, February 10. She was found dead on February 13, the Cayce Department of Public Safety announced. After Faye’s body was found, police said the case is a homicide investigation. Preliminary autopsy results showed Faye died from asphyxiation.
Police announced on February 14 that the death of her neighbor, Coty Taylor, was connected to Faye’s case. Evidence found in his trash can led investigators to the little girl’s body. Police now say they believe Taylor abducted and killed Faye before taking his own life. You can read more about Taylor here.
The FBI had joined the search and investigation into Faye Swetlik’s disappearance on February 11, a day after she went missing. Faye’s information was added to the National Crime Information Center’s list of missing persons, but an Amber Alert was never issued because the case did not meet the requirements to do so. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call a hotline set up for tips: 803-205-4444.
Here’s what you need to know about the disappearance and death of Faye Swetlik:
1. Police Have Released the 911 Call Made After Faye Swetlik Vanished From Her Front Yard
Faye Swetlik lived with her mother, Selena Collins, in the Churchill Heights neighborhood of Cayce and was a first-grader at Springdale Elementary School. Police said Faye’s mother picked her up from the bus stop after school on February 10 and walked her back to their home, located at 16 Londonderry Lane.
A neighbor also confirmed that Collins was waiting at the bus stop for her daughter. The neighbor, whose name was not released, told WIS-TV that her son, along with Faye, arrived on the school bus around 2:50 p.m.
Faye went inside the home to get a snack after school, Collins told the police. WSOC-TV reported that Faye went outside to play in the yard and that her mother realized she was gone shortly after.
Faye’s family noticed she was gone and began looking for her around 3:45 p.m. Collins contacted the police at 5 p.m. Cayce DPS has released the 911 audio of the call. It is embedded above or can be heard here.
2. Faye Swetlik’s Body Was Found In a Wooded Area Near Her Home
Cayce Director of Public Safety Byron Snellgrove announced on February 13, 2020, the tragic news that law enforcement officials had located Faye Swetlik’s body. He was joined by the coroner of Lexington County, Margaret Fisher.
“It is with extremely heavy hearts that we are announcing that we have found the body that the coroner has identified as Faye Marie Swetlik.” He choked up and seemed on the verge of tears before continuing. “We are now treating this case as a homicide. As this community has been working hard to find Faye, and bring her home safely, we wanted you to know as soon as possible.”
Her body was found in a wooded area in her neighborhood, WIS-TV reported. Police have since learned she died from asphixiation.
Family, friends, and well-wishers have set up memorials for Faye since she was found dead. People have been leaving flowers and stuffed animals at the entrance to her Churchill Heights neighborhood and in front of her elementary school.
3. Coty Taylor’s Body Was Also Found During the Search; Police Say He Killed the Child Before Committing Suicide
The Cayce Department of Public Safety did not publicly name any potential suspects related to Faye Swetlik’s disappearance and death. No arrests were made.
Director of Public Safety Byron Snellgrove explained that over the course of the extensive search for Faye, law enforcement officials found the body of an adult male in the Churchill Heights neighborhood. That man has since been identified as Coty Scott Taylor.
Taylor was found dead inside his home, which was located a few hundred feet from Faye’s apartment. Police have confirmed they now believe Taylor kidnapped and killed the little girl. They believe he acted alone and that Faye died within hours of her abduction. Read more here.
4. Faye Swetlik’s Family Says She Was a ‘Bubbly’ Little Girl Who Would Not Have Just Wandered Away
Faye Marie Swetlik was last seen alive in her front yard wearing a flower print skirt, polka dot boots and a black T-shirt with neon colors. Her shirt had the word “Peace” on it. The picture embedded above is from the security camera on the bus, from the day that she disappeared. The Cayce Department of Public Safety has also released a video that shows Faye getting off the school bus.
Her family released a statement Tuesday afternoon that was published by Fox Carolina:
Faye is a bubbly and happy little girl. She always wants to play and have fun. She’s not the type of kid that will up and walk away. Her mom was very attentive in watching Faye. Faye pays attention to her surroundings. Her grandmother is very distraught about what has happened because they are very close. We just want to find Faye and bring her home.
Police say Faye’s family members cooperated with the investigation from the beginning. That list includes her father, mother, and her mother’s boyfriend.
5. An Amber Alert Was Never Issued Because Police Said The Case Did Not Meet Federal Guidelines
The Cayce Department of Public Safety asked the public’s help to identify the drivers of two vehicles spotted in Faye Swetlik’s neighborhood around the time she disappeared. Police shared surveillance video of the two vehicles on Facebook. “Talking with everyone who was in #ChurchillHeights at the time Faye was last seen is an important part of our work to bring her home.”
Police later issued an update that they’d spoken with the driver of the Chevrolet Trailblazer but were “still seeking information about the silver vehicle in the photos in this post.”
Police never issued an Amber Alert for Faye because they said the case did not meet federally-mandated guidelines. For an Amber Alert to be issued, investigators need to have evidence of an abduction and “enough information to share which would aid in the recovery of a child.”
But officers from multiple agencies, including the Cayce Department of Public Safety, the Lexington County Sheriff’s Office, and the FBI canvassed the neighborhood around Faye’s home as they searched for clues. That included knocking on every door, stopping drivers as they traveled in and out of the neighborhood, and searching through trash cans and a nearby landfill.