Five days after 6-year-old Faye Swetlik was found dead in a wooded area not far from her Cayce, South Carolina home, officials gave answers to several unanswered questions in the murder investigation.
In a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Lexington County coroner Margaret Fisher said the cause of Swetlik’s death was asphyxiation, which means her air supply was cut off. She died within a few hours after she went missing, according to autopsy results. Faye’s body had not been in the location where it was found for very long, he said.
While the coroner did not provide any further details on the case, Cayce public safety director Byron Snellgrove said police believe Coty Scott Taylor— the 30-year-old neighbor whose body was found shortly after Faye was discovered — abducted and killed Swetik by himself.
Neither Snellgrove or Fisher used Taylor’s name throughout the press conference. Fisher said she would only be speaking about Faye’s autopsy out of respect for her family.
Snellgrove said soon after he found Faye’s body around 10:30 a.m. Thursday, neighbors alerted police of a man bleeding on his back porch at 602 Picadilly Square.
By the time officials arrived, Taylor was found dead. Law enforcement officials told FITSNews Saturday they believe Taylor killed himself — which was confirmed Tuesday. Autopsy results said Taylor cut his own throat.
At the press conference, Snellgrove released more details on what led officers to the two bodies.
As a part of their neighborhood-wide search for Faye, police carefully followed the sanitation crew as it picked up trash throughout the neighborhood and “methodically” searched through trashcans looking for evidence.
Inside Taylor’s trashcan, police found a polka-dot boot that belonged to Faye and a soup ladle that had dirt in it. Snellgrove said he immediately alerted search crews to scan the area surrounding Taylor’s townhome, which led him to the woods where Snellgrove found Faye.
Asked what he found to be significant about the soup ladle, Snellgrove said he had a “hunch” that it was linked to the case. He was right.
After the two bodies were discovered, DNA evidence linked Taylor and his home to Swetlik’s death, Snellgrove said.
What we know about Taylor
Snellgrove said that police had spoken to Taylor on Wednesday afternoon and he gave agents permission to search his home. He said those agents did not see anything that alerted them, nor did Taylor say anything indicating he had anything to do with the case.
When reviewing surveillance footage in the area, Snellgrove said investigators “found Coty doing some things that were suspicious to us.” He did not elaborate on what those “suspicious things” were.
Snellgrove said they still don’t know where Faye’s body was between Monday and Thursday. He said he believed Taylor moved her body to the wooded area during the night “under the cover of darkness” early Thursday morning.
Snellgrove said that Taylor had a roommate.
“We have been in contact with the roommate,” Snellgrove said. “We have nothing that indicates that he knew anything about what was going on and he was not at the residence that much during the time (Swetlik was missing)”.
In a previous press conference, Evan Antley of the Cayce Department of Public Safety said Taylor was “not a friend” or a family member of Faye’s, but just a neighbor who lived in Churchill Heights — less than 150 feet from Faye’s home. He said Taylor didn’t have a criminal record and “was not known to law enforcement.”
According to his Facebook page, Coty Taylor was a graduate of Bluffton High School in Bluffton, South Carolina. He briefly studied math at the University of South Carolina in Columbia and worked as a manager at Jimmy John’s.
Before her body was discovered, Faye was last seen playing outside of her home on Londonderry Lane in Cayce around 3:45 p.m. Monday. Cayce Department of Public Safety officials said Faye rode the bus home yesterday and arrived at her home “like any other day.”
Faye’s mother called 911 around 5 p.m. Monday after she realized her daughter was missing.
More than 250 officers from over 20 law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), searched tirelessly throughout the Churchill Heights neighborhood for three days last week. They used tracking dogs and helicopters in the search.
Officers followed 283 leads throughout the investigation.
Snellgrove said every door to every residence in Churchill Heights was knocked on and officers went back to every single house until all residents were interviewed.
Officials kept their search extremely limited over the course of their investigation —stretching just past the 1-mile radius of the Churchill Heights neighborhood.
“I would like to thank every single member of this community who called in tips, provided information, and prayed for Faye and us,” Snellgrove said. “I assure you every prayer was felt and greatly appreciated.
The investigation is ongoing.
Memorial service set
A memorial service for Faye Swetlik is set for this Friday.
Diligent Towing & Transport LLC, a company that has been in direct communication with the Swetlik family, announced on Facebook that the Faye Swetlik’s funeral will be held at 7 p.m. Friday Feb. 21 at Trinity Baptist Church in Cayce.
According to the Facebook post (below), the family has requested that no one wears black, but bright colors instead (pink and purple were her favorite colors). They asked that the general public not arrive at the funeral home before the church service, the post said.