Suspected killing of 6-year-old South Carolina girl 'linked' to dead man found nearby, police say
Evidence taken from a trash can before it was carted away helped police find the body of Faye Swetlik, who went missing after school Monday, police said.
A Cayce police officer approaches a vehicle at a road block near an entrance to the Churchill Heights neighborhood on Feb. 13, 2020, in Cayce, S.C., where six year-old Faye Marie Swetlik recently went missing.Sean Rayford / AP
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"What I will tell you is they are linked," Cayce Sgt. Evan Antley told reporters.
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Faye was last seen around 3:45 p.m. Monday afternoon playing outside her family's home in the Churchill Heights neighborhood of Cayce. Her mother called 911 about an hour later.
Police honed in on a garbage truck Thursday and found evidence in trash before it was hauled away which quickly led them to the girl's body, according to Antley. Her death is being investigated as a homicide.
"As part of that search, we located a critical item of evidence related to our investigation," Antley said. "Based on that discovery, we narrowed down an area that we felt, as an investigative team, that we needed to go back to."
Antley declined to specify what the evidence was but said it "would have been listed on a missing person’s flyer.”
It was the city's director of public safety, Byron Snellgrove, who made the grim discovery of the girl's body in a wooded area of Churchill Heights, at about 11 a.m. Thursday, officials said.
"We believe that Faye had not been in that location for a long time at all," Antley said. "A short time later, just moments after locating Faye Marie Swetlik, we located a deceased male."
During their search for the girl, police had interviewed Taylor, who had no known criminal history, and had even been inside the man's home, police said.
"I can confirm that he was a neighbor, that he was not a relative, he was not a friend. He was merely a neighbor," Antley said. "At this time. I want to assure you, our community, and all of our parents out there, that we have no reasons to believe there is an active threat."
Taylor's home was around the corner and about 150 feet away from where Faye lived with her family, officials said.
"They are linked ... I'm not going to give you specific details on how," Antley said. "We want more information about Coty Taylor starting at 3:44 Monday afternoon until the time that we had announced that we had found his body."
David K. Li
David K. Li is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.