CAYCE, S.C. (WIS) - 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 Feb. 15.
Officers have launched a homicide investigation related to her death but did not share how she died.
The Cayce Department of Public Safety, the Lexington County Coroner’s Office and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division are investigating.
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.
No arrests have been made at this time, but police said there is no danger to the community.
Thursday morning, news crews were alerted to intensified police activity in the Churchill Heights neighborhood. Yellow crime tape was put up near the neighborhood’s entrance as police officers and fire crews blocked anyone from coming in, even residents.
Earlier in the morning, investigators were spotted going through trash cans set out in the neighborhood.
Authorities got hundreds of tips from a hotline they created for the investigation.
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.
Wednesday morning, Cayce police 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.
Faye was a bubbly, artistic child who loved to color and was always kind to others, her family said earlier in the week.
She also loved cats and playing outside. Her favorite colors were pink and purple.
She was in first grade at Springdale Elementary School and many in the community have said her teachers and classmates adored her.
Thursday, Lexington School District Two released the following statement regarding Faye’s death:
"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.
If you are worried about how your child is doing, please do not hesitate to contact our school. We are here to support your students through this.
Police said the hotline for information is still open so the public can share any tips related to the case. That number is 803-205-4444.
People in the community, and even across the nation, have shared messages of mourning in reaction to Faye’s death.
This is an outcome no one wanted in the case. Investigators shared a heartfelt message on Facebook to explain that the case is far from over.
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Officials said the following criteria must be met for an Amber Alert to be activated:
- a law enforcement agency or agencies must believe the child has been abducted,
- if the child is under 17 and the agency believes they’re in immediate danger or serious harm,
- all other possibilities for the disappearance have been reasonably excluded,
- there is sufficient information available to give to the public,
- the child’s name and other critical data have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
Faye’s information was entered into NCIC as a missing person, officials said.