CAYCE, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina community that searched, prayed and then cried said goodbye Friday to a 6-year-old girl who disappeared from her front yard and was found dead three days later.
The family of Faye Marie Swetlik asked everyone to wear bright colors, especially pink and purple, to honor the bubbly spirit of the girl at the Friday memorial service at Trinity Baptist Church in Cayce.
The girl was playing in her front yard after getting off the school bus Feb. 10 when she disappeared.
More than 200 officers searched for her until Thursday when Faye’s rain boot found in a neighbor’s trash can led police to search a nearby area for a fourth time. That’s when they found her body recently placed there.
DNA evidence connects the girl’s death to that neighbor, 30-year-old Coty Scott Taylor, authorities said.
Right after Faye’s body was found, Taylor was found dead from slitting his own throat on his patio, according to the Lexington County Coroner’s Office.
Officers questioned Taylor and went into his home the day before the girl’s body was found, but Cayce Public Safety Director Byron Snellgrove said they found no evidence of the girl at that time.
Investigators have not said why Taylor, who had no criminal record, wanted to kidnap the girl. The coroner’s office said that, out of respect for Faye’s family, they were refusing to release any details about the condition of the girl’s body or disclose any other way she might have been injured beyond dying of asphyxiation.
The girl’s disappearance shocked Cayce, a town of about 13,000 just west of Columbia, the state capital. Several prayer vigils were held while she was missing and after her body was found. Both the county coroner and the police chief in Cayce said they and their employees were shaken.
More than 100 people came out in pouring rain for a candlelight vigil Tuesday evening at Cayce City Hall.
In her obituary, Faye’s family said she was gone too soon but wouldn’t be forgotten.
“She made everyone believe in all things good again. She left behind a world that loved her. May she forever sparkle,” they wrote.
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