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6-year-old Faye Swetlik died by asphyxiation, coroner says

Missing South Carolina girl found dead
Missing South Carolina girl found dead 02:38

Faye Swetlik, the 6-year-old who was found dead after she went missing last week, died by asphyxiation, a coroner announced on Tuesday. Swetlik went missing from her front yard in Cayce, South Carolina. Her body was discovered nearby days later.

Swetlik died just hours after she went missing, according to the coroner.

"We have concluded that Faye's death was a homicide, and took place within only a few hours after she was abducted," Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher said at a press conference Tuesday. "The cause of Faye's death has been ruled asphyxiation."

Swetlik's body was discovered in a wooded area near her home on Thursday, according to officials. 

Fisher said on Tuesday that Swetlik's death "did not occur at the location where her body was discovered," adding that "her body had been at that location for only a short time."

Cayce Chief of Police Byron Snellgrove, who discovered the body, also spoke at the press conference on Tuesday.

"This was not just an investigation or a case for us, Faye Swetlik quickly grabbed all of our hearts, and this became and will always remain very personal for us," Snellgrove said.

Evidence suggests Faye's body "was moved in the shadow of the night," according to Snellgrove.

Faye Swetlik Family photo

Shortly after Swetlik's body was found, authorities discovered the body of her 30-year-old neighbor, Coty Scott Taylor. One day later, police said they believed the two bodies were "linked." Snellgrove confirmed that theory was correct on Tuesday, stating that DNA evidence has connected both crime scenes.

"Evidence leads us to believe that [Taylor] abducted and killed 6-year-old Faye Marie Swetlik. And it appears that he is the sole perpetrator of this crime," Snellgrove said.

Taylor lived less than 200 feet from Swetlik's home. He was interviewed by police after the girl went missing, and allowed authorities to search his home, according to Snellgrove. 

Taylor was "cooperative, and gave consent to agents to look through the house," Snellgrove said.

"Those agents did not see anything that alerted them to believe that he had knowledge, or was any way involved in Faye's disappearance," he added.

Fisher, the coroner, also released the cause of death for Taylor on Tuesday. She concluded that he died of a self-inflicted "incised wound to the neck," according to the autopsy. 

For immediate help, if you are in a crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.

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