Cayce, SC – The Cayce police chief held a press conference on Tuesday to release more details about the murder of six-year-old Faye Swetlik, including her cause of death.
Faye had been missing for four days when Cayce Department of Public Safety Chief Byron Snellgrove found her body on Thursday afternoon.
Police said the little girl was last seen getting off the school bus and playing in her yard on Londonderry Lane in Cayce, off Highway 302, on Feb. 10, WYFF reported.
Cayce Department of Public Safety (DPS) Sergeant Evan Antley said Faye’s parents confirmed the first grader did arrive home after she got off the bus.
Chief Snellgrove said Faye’s mother said she was in the home when her daughter got home from school, WLTX reported.
She said she noticed Faye was missing at about 3:45 p.m., according to WYFF.
Police said the family contacted them about the missing little girl shortly before 5 p.m.
Over 300 members of law enforcement, family, and volunteers actively searched the Churchill Heights area for Faye for several days, WSOC reported.
They set up roadblocks around the neighborhood and searched vehicles, and they went door to door more than once and talked to everyone who lived in the neighborhood.
By Wednesday, authorities had expanded the search area for the missing child beyond her neighborhood and even as far as the highway, WYFF reported.
Chief Snellgrove said he asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for assistance and that agents had joined the search, WLTX reported.
The chief told reporters Thursday was the regular trash day for the neighborhood, and that officers followed the trash truck through the streets, methodically searching every can before it was dumped into the truck.
That’s when officers they found a polka dotted rain boot and a metal ladle that been used to dig in the dirt in a trashcan outside the home where 30-year-old Cody Taylor lived, Chief Snellgrove said.
He said he was on the scene when the discovery was made, and while they were waiting for a forensics team to arrive, he went looking for the little girl himself and found her in the woods behind the townhouses where her boot was found.
Moments later, police received a report about a man who was bleeding on his back porch.
Chief Snellgrove said the bleeding man was Taylor.
Taylor was pronounced dead at the scene. Officials have said he cut his own throat shortly before Faye’s body was found.
Police believe that Taylor moved Faye’s body to the woods where she was found “under cover of darkness” in the early morning hours of Feb. 13, Chief Snellgrove said.
The chief said that DNA found inside Taylor’s home matched Faye.
Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher told reporters that the Medical University of South Carolina had conducted the little girl’s autopsy.
Fisher said it had been determined that Faye had been dead since a few hours after she disappeared on Feb. 10.
The medical examiner said Faye was not killed where she was found, and that she died from asphyxiation.
She said she would not release any other details from the autopsy report at this point out of respect for the six year old’s family.
Chief Snellgrove said that investigators had reviewed surveillance video from 50 different cameras in the Churchill Heights neighborhood and that there had been a couple of things that made them look twice at Taylor.
The chief did not say what those things were.
He said officers had spoken to Taylor more than once during the course of the investigation, and that he had given officers consent to walk through his home to look for clues to the disappearance of the little girl the day before her body was found.
Chief Snellgrove said that Taylor’s roommate hadn’t been around much during the time period when Faye was missing, but that he had been cooperating with police and authorities did not believe he was involved in the little girl’s disappearance.