CAYCE, SC- “We are now treating this as a homicide.” authorities said.
Those harrowing words are some of the worst a parent can hear just hours after you report your child missing.
WIS10 reports that police shared the tragic news that 6-year-old Faye Swetlik was found dead Thursday, not far from where she was last seen. Faye disappeared from the front yard of her Cayce, South Carolina home while she was playing outside after school Monday.
Her family reported her missing at 5 p.m., saying they had last seen her at 3:45 p.m.
Thursday around 11 a.m., police found Faye’s body somewhere in her neighborhood. The Lexington County Coroner’s Office said an autopsy will be performed on February 15th. Police also said the body of a deceased male was found in the same neighborhood, and an investigation has started in that case.
They did not, however, directly relate the cases at this time. That person has not been identified.
Officers launched a homicide investigation related to her death but have not indicated how she died. The Cayce Department of Public Safety, the Lexington County Coroner’s Office and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division are investigating.
Authorities got hundreds of tips from a hotline they created for the investigation. They also have been looking surveillance video.
While they were originally looking for the occupants of two vehicles seen in that video, they have narrowed that down to one, a grey sedan.
Cayce DPS says thanks to tips, they’ve been able to identify the occupants of a Chevy Trailblazer seen in the neighborhood the day Faye went missing. They still need help identifying the sedan in the picture. @wis10 pic.twitter.com/3273AcJxJu
— Caroline Hecker (@CHecker_WIS) February 13, 2020
No arrests have been made at this time, but police said there is no danger to the community.
Police said they searched the woods, several vehicles, went through surveillance video from the area and followed up by looking in landfills and searching neighbors’ homes and Faye’s home multiple times.
— Drew Aunkst WIS (@NewsDrewWIS) February 13, 2020
Wednesday morning, police had updated the public with new video showing Faye getting off her school bus Monday afternoon, about an hour before her family said she was last seen in her yard.
It would be the last time she was seen alive.
She was in first grade at Springdale Elementary School and many in the community have said her teachers and classmates adored her.
The school district released a statement.
“We are heart-broken with news of the death of Faye Swetlik, a first-grade student at Springdale Elementary, who went missing earlier this week.
When the school community experiences a tragedy like the loss of a child, it deeply affects all of us. Below please find information we sent to our families this afternoon.
We will not have further public comment or interviews in coming days, as we focus on supporting our Springdale students, faculty and staff.
We thank all of the law enforcement agencies that have worked tirelessly this week to bring Faye home. As this investigation is ongoing, we ask anyone who might have information that would help law enforcement to call the hotline at 803-205-4444.
We ask everyone as well to please keep Faye and those closest to her in your thoughts.”
The school also sent a letter to families, written by Springdale Elementary Principal Hope Vrana.
Dear Springdale Families:
We have some heart-breaking news to share. Faye Swetlik, a first-grader who has been the subject of media reports this week and an intensive search effort, has passed away.
We contacted you earlier this week, to share with you some of the efforts here at school to support our students and staff. That support will be more important than ever in coming days, as our community grieves the loss of this little girl. Our goal here at Springdale is to listen and to reassure our students and to keep the school day as normal as we possibly can during this difficult time.
We will have extra district and school counselors on hand in coming days, talking with students, teachers and staff. They will be available to meet one-on-one with your child should the need arise.
We know how hard something like this is even for adults to understand. We are sending home some general tips about how you can talk with your child about this.
We first alerted you to Fay’s disappearance Thursday, in what was an attempt to spread the word.
The search continues to locate a missing 6-year-old girl who disappeared this past Monday.
Faye Marie Swetlik was last seen playing in her front yard after she returned home from school on Monday afternoon. Now, hundreds have joined in on the search to find this little girl.
Faye, who is a first grader over at Springdale Elementary School, got off her bus on Monday. Yet, after she arrived at her home at Churchill Heights, her parents noticed she wasn’t anywhere to be seen at around 3:45 p.m., according to Cayce Department of Public Safety Sgt. Evan Antley.
The FBI joined the search as well to help locate the missing girl. Sgt. Antley stated the following on the matter and circumstances of her disappearance:
“We’re not sure if she just walked off and is somewhere in the woods or at a neighbor’s house possibly in distress or fallen or something like that.”
Police were contacted at around 5:00 p.m. that Monday when the parents were unable to locate Faye. The search initially started with roughly over 100 law enforcement personnel, which included K-9 units. By Tuesday morning, the number of searchers increased to more than 250.
The Cayce Department of Public Safety’s Facebook page has been providing updates in real time regarding the search efforts.
One of the latest posts from the Facebook page showcased an FBI Missing Person notice with the following caption:
“We are going to continue to ask that you share this latest missing person bulletin from the FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation with information on #FayeSwetlik.”
Sgt. Evan Antley with the Cayce Department of Public Safety said that Swetlik’s family is cooperating with the investigation.
But when local media asked if family members are being issued polygraph tests, Sgt. Antley said he could not comment about that aspect of the investigation.
Another post within the same timeframe from the Cayce DPS stated:
“The State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) continues to offer air assistance in the search for #FayeSwetlik and they have been flying over her neighborhood and area since her disappearance two days ago.”
Locals within the area have been eager to help in locating the young girl. Individuals nearby the search area have been reaching out to the Cayce DPS to see how they can assist with ground level searches.
In response, officials stated that the ground searches require copious amounts of coordination between first responders. They had asked the following of those asking how they can help:
“Please focus efforts in assisting with this investigation by sharing the most up to date postings from our social media pages as we are all working together in bringing Faye home. #PrayforFaye #FayeSwetlik.”
Sgt. Antley had the following sentiments to convey regarding the search for the young girl:
“We’re hoping for the best. We want to get Faye back home. So, we’re not leaving any stone unturned. We are exhausting every resource we have and then some.”
We here at Law Enforcement Today are praying that the young girl makes it back home safely and in good health. We’d also ask our readers to please share this article, as any increased awareness could potentially expedite a safe return home for this young girl.
Police are asking that anyone within the Churchill Heights neighborhood that has a home security system akin to Ring to please contact law enforcement immediately.
Faye was last seen wearing a black shirt with the word ‘peace’ on it, along with a flower print skirt and polka dot rain boots, according to the Cayce Department of Public Safety.
Faye is approximately 3 foot 10 inches tall and weighs about 65 pounds. It is also noted that she is lactose intolerant and suffers from a speech impediment.
She currently has shoulder-length hair as well.
Police are asking anybody with information to call the dedicated hotline at 803-205-4444.
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