Faye Swetlik Case: What to Know About the Missing South Carolina Girl Found Dead After Disappearing from Yard

Faye Swetlik Memorial
Tracy Glantz/The State/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

A timeline of the missing persons-turned homicide investigation of Faye Marie Swetlik.

The killing of missing 6-year-old Faye Marie Swetlik sent shock waves through her South Carolina community and around the entire country.

The first grader, described as a “bubbly and happy little girl," vanished Feb. 10 from the front yard of her home in Cayce after returning home on the school bus.

Officials turned her Churchill Heights neighborhood upside down searching for the little girl, but sadly announced last Thursday that they had found her body in a wooded area near her home, and that from then on, would be treating the case as a homicide. Around the same time, police discovered the body of a 30-year-old man, a neighbor identified as Coty Taylor.

Based on evidence gathered at both scenes, police believe that Taylor abducted and murdered Faye and took his own life around the time her body was found.

Below is a timeline of the investigation:

Monday, Feb. 10: Faye goes missing


Faye is last seen around 3:45 p.m. playing in the yard outside her home, according to authorities. Shortly before then, she returned home on the school bus. 

At around 5 p.m., Faye is reported missing by her mother, whose frantic phone calls to 911 were later released by the Cayce Department of Public Safety.

"I need to report a missing child. We can't find my daughter," Selena Collins told the dispatcher. "She was right in front of my front porch. She was playing outside. I can't find her [inaudible]." 

Collins continues, telling 911 she had already "checked all the houses" in the neighborhood, and that those who answered joined to help.

Within minutes, officers arrive, and begin their search for Faye. Cayce authorities post Faye's photo on Facebook and ask the public to contact them if they see her.

The search continues overnight. 

Tuesday, Feb. 11: The search ramps up

By Tuesday morning, over 250 officers and investigators from across the country have joined the search.

Authorities say they aren't "leaving any stone unturned" as they explore all possibilities. They set up a dedicated hotline for tips and ask local residents to come forward with any footage from personal security cameras. The FBI joins the investigation.

"When she walks into a room, she brightens it up," says Chief Byron Snellgrove during a press conference Tuesday afternoon. "Everybody loves Faye."

A prayer vigil for Faye and her family is held at a local church on Tuesday night.

Wednesday, Feb. 12: Tips pour in

In a morning press conference, Cayce police tell the public they are continuing to investigate Faye's disappearance by following up on leads and interviewing residents in the Churchill Heights neighborhood.

New video of Faye getting off the school bus is released. She was wearing a black shirt with the word "PEACE" on it, a pink flowered skirt and polka dot rain boots. These details are included on a missing person bulletin released by the FBI. 

State officials deploy helicopters and K-9 teams to assist with the search, as investigators go door-to-door speaking to residents.

Later Wednesday, police ask the public to share new photos released of vehicles shown in the neighborhood during the time Faye was last seen as they seek to identify and interview the occupants.

Law enforcement works overnight following up on tips that had been called in about Faye.

Thursday, Feb. 13: Faye's body is found

Police announce that the body of Faye Swetlik has been found in her neighborhood and the case would move forward as a homicide investigation.

"It is with an extremely heavy heart, that we are announcing that we have found the body, that the coroner has identified as Faye Marie Swetlik," says Cayce Public Safety Director Byron Snellgrove in a press conference.

It is also announced that the remains of a man were found during the investigation, although police don't immediately identify him or share details about his cause of death.

A memorial is set up at the entrance of Faye's neighborhood.

Friday, Feb. 14: More details are released

Police identify the deceased man as 30-year-old neighbor Coty Taylor. He was found dead inside his home, which is about 150 feet away from Faye's residence.

During a press conference, Sgt. Evan Antley says the two deaths are "linked" after investigators found a "critical piece of evidence" in the trash can outside Taylor's house. 

Based on that discovery, police say they were able to find Faye's remains in a wooded area between her home and an auto-parts store. Police believe that Faye had not been in that location for a very long time.

Taylor had no criminal history and was not to known to law enforcement.

Antley says Thursday was "possibly the toughest day of many law enforcement careers."

Police say there are no suspects and they will not release more information until after the autopsies are performed.

Saturday Feb. 15: Coroner conducts autopsies

Faye's autopsy is performed in Charleston, but the results will not be yet released in order to give her family time to process the information, according to the Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher. 

Her body is escorted by multiple police agencies from Charleston to a funeral home in Lexington County. 

Residents lined the street to show their support for her family, WIS News reported.

On Saturday, Taylor's autopsy is also conducted, the coroner says.

The community gathers for a candlelight vigil in Cayce.

Tuesday Feb. 18: Cause of death revealed

During an afternoon press conference, Coroner Fisher says that Faye's autopsy shows she died from asphyxiation within hours of being abducted.

Based on DNA evidence recovered, police believe Taylor abducted and killed Faye and that he was the sole perpetrator.

Police also reveal that the evidence discovered in Taylor's trash can last Thursday was a child's rain boot and a soup ladle with freshly dug dirt on it.

These items led investigators back to the wooded area where they found Faye. Police say that Taylor moved Faye's body there "in the shadow of the night."

Taylor's autopsy findings released after the press conference show that he took his own life.

According to police, Taylor had been interviewed on Wednesday at his home. He was "cooperative" and gave consent to agents to look through the house.

A vigil for Faye is scheduled for Tuesday evening.