South Carolina authorities announced a link Friday between the suspected homicide of a 6-year-old girl and the death of a 30-year-old man who lived in her family’s South Carolina neighborhood.

Cayce Department of Public Safety Sgt. Evan Antley said during a Friday news conference that he could not provide specifics about the relationship between the deaths of Faye Marie Swetlik and the neighbor, who was identified as Coty Scott Taylor. The bodies of the two were discovered Thursday in separate locations within the Churchill Heights neighborhood they called home.

The family of the first-grade girl had reported her missing Monday afternoon, shortly after she got off her school bus and returned home. She was last seen playing in the yard outside the home at about 3:45 p.m.

Antley said “a critical item of evidence” discovered in the trash can of Taylor’s house revealed that the two cases were linked. He declined to say whether police believe Taylor was responsible for Faye’s death.

“What I can ask you for is this: we want more information about Coty Taylor starting at 3:44 Monday afternoon up until the time that we announced that we had found his body,” Antley said.

While we grieve for Faye and try to process this tragedy, we want to ensure you that our work continues and want to let...

Posted by Cayce Department of Public Safety on Thursday, February 13, 2020

In a 911 call that authorities released Friday, Faye’s mother was breathless as she told an operator that her child had gone missing.

“I can’t — we can’t find my daughter,” Selena Collins said. “She was playing outside, and now I can’t find her.”

The family had searched the neighborhood, she said. Neighbors were helping them look. The operator told Collins police were on the way, and within a few minutes, officers arrived.

During the three-day effort to find Faye, law enforcement locked down the Churchill Heights neighborhood. The FBI and state police assisted with helicopters and K-9 teams. Investigators searched trash cans before they were emptied by garbage truck crews and went door to door speaking to residents.

They talked to Taylor and went inside his house as part of that effort, Antley said.

It was while emptying trash cans on Thursday that investigators found the critical piece of evidence. Antley declined to disclose what the evidence was, but said it was listed on the FBI’s missing person flyer, which detailed Faye’s appearance, the circumstances of her disappearance and the rain boots and clothing she was wearing when she was last seen.

Based on that discovery, they zeroed in on an area to revisit. They found Faye’s body in a wooded area between her home and an auto-parts store.

“Based on our investigation and based on the information, the preliminary information that we received from the coroner’s office, we believe that Faye had not been in that location for a very long time at all,” Antley said.

Soon after, they discovered Taylor’s body inside his house. Antley said the man had no criminal history and was not known to law enforcement.

The investigation remains active, Antley said, with autopsies of both bodies expected to occur on Saturday. He added that police have no reason to believe that there is an active threat to the community.

The discovery of the child’s body made Thursday “possibly the toughest day of many law enforcement careers,” Antley said.

“This is not the outcome we wanted,” he said. “But this is where we are, and our work continues to bring justice for Faye Marie Swetlik.”

Victim’s services workers are with Faye’s family, who previously had released a statement pleading for the return of the child they described as a “bubbly and happy little girl.”

Asked about how they are coping, Antley said his heart broke for them.

“As a parent, how do you go through that?” he asked. “We have a preschool not too far from here, and kids are out there playing on the playground as we pulled in. And as officers, we stopped and waved and made sure those kids saw us and smiled. I couldn’t begin to answer that.”

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