CAYCE, S.C. (WCSC) - Authorities in Cayce shared grim news Thursday afternoon in the search for a 6-year-old girl who vanished Monday afternoon.
“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,” an emotional Cayce Public Safety Director Byron Snellgrove said Thursday afternoon. “We are now treating this case as a homicide.”
No arrests have been made in the case so far, he said.
Officials with the Lexington County Coroner’s Office said Swetlik’s body was discovered at 11 a.m. on Thursday in the Churchill Heights neighborhood where she was last seen playing outside Monday afternoon.
An autopsy will be conducted on Saturday at MUSC in Charleston, according to the coroner’s office.
During the course of the investigation, Snellgrove said a second body, of a deceased male, was located in the same neighborhood. Authorities have not identified that person and did not provide his age.
It is not yet clear whether the two deaths are connected, but Snellgrove said investigators believe there is no danger to the community.
Authorities did not take questions during a brief news conference on Thursday. Police officials said they are treating this as a homicide investigation.
Law enforcement had been searching through the Churchhill Heights neighborhood where Faye’s body was found.
“It’s just devastating, we’re trying to help as much as possible," said Wendy Sinopoli, who works near the neighborhood."She was a sweet little girl, she used to come here all the time.”
Late Thursday afternoon, Lexington County School District 2 released a statement on Swetlik's death:
We are heart-broken with news of the death of Faye Swetlik, a first-grade student at Springdale Elementary, who went missing earlier this week. When the school community experiences a tragedy like the loss of a child, it deeply affects all of us.
Below please find information we sent to our families this afternoon. We will not have further public comment or interviews in coming days, as we focus on supporting our Springdale students, faculty and staff.
We thank all of the law enforcement agencies that have worked tirelessly this week to bring Faye home. As this investigation is ongoing, we ask anyone who might have information that would help law enforcement to call the hotline at 803-205-4444.
Vice President Mike Pence, speaking to Cadets at The Citadel Thursday afternoon, made reference to the Swetlik case.
"But I would just urge everyone in South Carolina: Hug your children today," he said. And keep this little girl and her family and her community in your prayers."
Pence said he spoke with the head of the FBI and said he promised South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster the full resources of the federal government to aid in the investigation into Swetlik’s death.
Swetlik disappeared from her yard Monday afternoon. Her family last saw her there at approximately 3:45 p.m., shortly after she got off the school bus. At approximately 5 p.m., they notified 911 when they realized they had lost track of her and weren’t able to find her in the immediate area.
The news conference came shortly after a large presence of law enforcement agencies were seen swarming the neighborhood where the child lives with her mother and grandmother Thursday morning.
Earlier in the morning, investigators examined trash cans set out in the neighborhood.
Authorities have been following up on the hundreds of tips they’ve received since creating the hotline in this investigation. The number for anyone with information to call is 803-205-4444.
They are receiving a large volume of calls, so officials said if people cannot get through they should keep calling.