“It is with extremely heavy hearts that we are announcing that we have found the body that the coroner has identified as Faye Marie Swetlik,” Cayce Department of Public Safety Director Byron Snellgrove said during an emotional news conference on Thursday afternoon.
No arrests have been made. While investigating Faye’s disappearance in the Churchill Heights neighborhood where she lived with her family, authorities discovered a man’s body, Snellgrove said. The investigation into that death “has just begun,” he added.
Police released no further information; Snellgrove declined to take questions.
The Lexington County coroner’s office said an autopsy would be conducted on Saturday.
A camera captured Faye, dressed in a shirt with the word “PEACE” emblazoned on it, leaving her school bus on Monday afternoon. A family member contacted police at 5 p.m. that day to report her missing, saying she was last seen playing in the yard outside their home around 3:45 p.m.
Law enforcement soon began their search for the child. The three-day effort involved helicopters, K-9 teams and assistance from state police and the FBI.
The family’s Churchill Heights neighborhood was locked down by police for the three days after the disappearance was reported, with investigators going door to door speaking to residents. They reviewed video captured by security cameras and combed through tips that flowed to a phone line dedicated to the case.
“In a case of this nature, we are leaving no stone unturned,” Sgt. Evan Antley said during a news conference on Thursday morning, hours before the discovery of the body was announced. “We are looking for even the smallest piece of evidence that could point us in the direction of bringing Faye home.”
Antley said the missing girl’s relatives, who have attended news conferences without speaking publicly, have cooperated with investigators since she first disappeared.
Faye’s grandmother, Ruth Collins, told WLTX Channel 19 after a Tuesday vigil that the family appreciated the community’s support and was hopeful that she would be returned home.
As the investigation continued, the search expanded beyond the one-mile radius of the Churchill Heights neighborhood. On Wednesday, police were seeking to identify and interview the occupants of a silver sedan and a silver SUV spotted in the area around the time Faye disappeared. By Thursday, they had spoken to the people in the SUV but were still looking for those in the sedan.
They wrote in a Facebook post that speaking with everyone who was around at the time Faye vanished was “an important part of our work to bring her home.”
Tips continue to come about the vehicles that were in the Churchill Heights neighborhood during the time #FayeSwetlik was last seen.— Cayce Public Safety (@Cayce_DPS) February 13, 2020
Thanks to your tips, the Chevrolet Trailblazer has been identified but investigators are still seeking information about the silver sedan. pic.twitter.com/M4VFAiVBCn
Vehicles have been towed from the Churchill Heights neighborhood, Antley said Thursday, adding that he could not “share details of anything that may or may not have been found in those vehicles.” Investigators also searched a landfill. No potential suspects or people of interest have been named.