CAYCE, S.C. (AP) — A 6-year-old South Carolina girl who disappeared earlier in the week after getting off her school bus was found dead Thursday, and a homicide investigation has been opened, authorities said.
The body of a man also was found recently in the neighborhood where the child, Faye Marie Swetlik, disappeared Monday, said Cayce Public Safety Director Byron Snellgrove.
Snellgrove didn't immediately provide any evidence to link the two deaths, but said at a brief news conference to announce the developments that there was no danger to the public. He said no arrests have been made in the girl's death.
“It’s with extremely heavy hearts that we announce we have found the body" of the child, Snellgrove said, speaking for only about a minute and taking no questions.
The coroner confirmed the girl's death but has not released the identity of the dead man, Snellgrove said.
The girl's disappearance had brought more than 250 officers to the neighborhood in Cayce, just across the Congaree River from the state capital of Columbia.
Searchers knocked multiple times on the doors of every home in the neighborhood. They also checked trash cans and a nearby landfill and towed cars.
The girl was last seen getting off the school bus Monday. Her family discovered her missing about 3:45 p.m. and called 911 after looking for her for about an hour, authorities have said.
The girl's mother, the mother's boyfriend and her father all cooperated with investigators, authorities said.
Flyers with Faye's picture had appeared all over Cayce and people in the area tracked every development in the case.
“When she walks into a room she brightens it up. Everyone loves Faye," Snellgrove said. Tuesday “Faye loves dresses, fancy shoes, spending time with her family, cats and playing outside.”
On Wednesday, hundreds of police officers continued to look for Faye, who hadn't been seen since shortly after getting off her school bus near her South Carolina home Monday.
Investigators earlier said they had no evidence she had been kidnapped, but also did not rule out an abduction or that she walked away from her home or was harmed by someone she knew in the central city of Cayce, authorities said.
“We’re still exploring every possibility to bring Faye home," Cayce Public Safety Officer Sgt. Evan Antley earlier said.
Police on Wednesday released a video of the girl getting off her school bus Monday. Her family discovered her missing about 3:45 p.m. and called 911 after looking for her for about an hour, authorities have said.
“Her mother, her mother’s boyfriend and her father have all been cooperative with us," Cayce Public Safety Director Byron Snellgrove said.
Investigators sent more than 250 officers to talk with neighbors, used tracking dogs and helicopters to search the area and have stopped motorists near the girl's home to question them. They also asked residents with doorbell cameras in the area to share footage. State police and the FBI are assisting local police.
Flyers with Faye's picture sprouted up all over Cayce, a city of 14,000 neighboring the state capital of Columbia.
“When she walks into a room she brightens it up. Everyone loves Faye," Snellgrove said. “Faye loves dresses, fancy shoes, spending time with her family, cats and playing outside.”