Faye Swetlik murder: Alleged killer believed to have strangled 6-year-old within hours of abducting her
The alleged killer of 6-year-old Faye Swetlik was able to hide her body in his apartment despite multiple police searches and later buried her in the woods before taking his own life, the Post and Courier reports.
Those are among the new details contained in a police report about the case released recently to South Carolina media outlets.
“All endings, evidence and facts point to the exact same conclusion: Coty Taylor abducted and murdered Faye Marie Swetlik and was the sole perpetrator in this horrible case,” Cayce Public Safety Director Bryan Snellgrove said in a recorded video released along with the police reports, according to the newspaper.
The report shows that investigators believe Taylor strangled Swetlik to death within several hours of abducting her.
Swetlik went missing on Feb. 10, 2020 in Cayce, South Carolina, shortly after she got home from school. Police initiated a massive search for the girl that entailed interviews with neighbors, including Taylor, but he did not prompt any immediate suspicion.
Police had also searched Taylor’s home the first two days after Swetlik vanished when he was gone with permission of his roommate. At the time, police noticed a black laundry bag that was full, but they found no need to focus on it.
Officers later interviewed Taylor, 30, who claimed to have been sleeping at the time Swetlik went missing. This is when police began to question Taylor’s alibi.
Suspicion also came from Taylor’s roommate, who noticed an unusual smell throughout the apartment. The roommate told police that he “had never smelled a dead person before but there was something not right,” according to the Post and Courier.
Although Taylor was using deodorizing spray in the apartment, the roommate assumed that was to mask the smell of marijuana, according to WIS-TV.
Amid repeated inquiries from police and suspicion from the roommate, Taylor buried Swetlik’s body in a nearby wooded area around 1 a.m. on February 13. This timeline is based on camera footage that recorded a light from the vicinity where the body was found.
Taylor later walked to a Walmart to buy soil for the shallow grave. He took a Lyft on the way back, and the driver told police that Taylor acted unusually.
The driver had asked Taylor whether he knew Swetlik, given that they lived in the same neighborhood. Taylor reportedly told the driver “I don’t know” multiple times and then said “I never met her before,” according to the Post and Courier.
Security camera footage would later show someone going back into the woods carrying what appeared to be a 50-pound bag of potting soil.
Later that morning, investigators found a polka-dot boot in Taylor’s trash can, which appeared to be just like the boots Swetlik was wearing when she vanished. Also in the trash was a soup ladle containing dirt. Those discoveries prompted police to again search the woods, where Swetlik’s body was soon found. Some of the girl’s clothes were not fully covered by the dirt. When police removed the dirt, they found Swetlik’s body with a plastic trash bag wrapped around her neck.
Police later found Taylor dead in his apartment with a knife in his neck, which authorities have classified as a self-inflicted wound.
Investigators reportedly searched the black laundry bag that was initially spotted in the early hours of Swetlik’s disappearance; forensic analysis showed her DNA in it. Taylor’s DNA was also found underneath Swetlik’s fingernails.
Police have not been able to identify why Taylor targeted or killed Swetlik. His roommate told investigators that Taylor had felt depressed and had previously expressed suicidal thoughts. The roommate called him “childlike” and a shut-in, according to the Post and Courier.
Someone who played online games with Taylor described him as a “loner who constantly had a negative outlook on life and who “lived without hope,” the newspaper reports.
The roommate called him childlike and a nerdy shut-in but did not think he was capable of “doing something like this,” according to the Post and Courier.
Taylor did not have any criminal history and had no known connections with Swetlik’s mother or her boyfriend.
In the wake of the killing, the community came together to dedicate new playground equipment and benches honoring Swetlik, according to WLTX-TV. Colorful rocks were also placed around the city as a reminder of the girl.
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