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Faye Swetlik death: Six-year-old was strangled by neighbour who then killed himself, police say

A six-year-old girl who disappeared from her front yard after school was strangled by a neighbour who then killed himself, authorities in South Carolina have said.

Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher told reporters that Faye Marie Swetlik died just a few hours after she was abducted.

“The loss of Faye, an innocent child, who was simply playing in her own yard ... has been extremely difficult to all of us,” Ms Fisher said. She added that out of respect for the girl's family, she would release no information about the condition of her body.

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Cayce Public Safety Director Byron Snellgrove said Faye was killed by 30-year-old neighbour Coty Scott Taylor, who was himself found dead not long after the girl's body was found. The coroner's office said Taylor cut his own throat.

Faye had gotten off the school bus and was last seen playing in her Cayce front yard on 10 February. More than 200 officers searched over three days for her, knocking on every door in her neighbourhood and checking every vehicle going in and out.

Investigators have said they found a clue about her disappearance in Taylor's trash can on Thursday. Mr Snellgrove said the evidence included one of Faye's rain boots and a soup ladle of dirt.

The missing child poster for Faye Swetlik (Cayce Department of Public Safety)

They soon found the girl's body in woods that had been searched previously, and then found Taylor dead in his home. Mr Snellgrove said Faye's body appeared to have been moved during the night before she was found on Thursday morning.

He said Taylor had cooperated when interviewed by investigators earlier.

“He was cooperative and gave consent to agents to look through the house. Those agents did not see anything,” he said.

The girl's disappearance shocked Cayce, a town of about 13,000 just west of Columbia. Several prayer vigils were held while she was missing and after her body was found.

A public memorial for Faye will be 7 pm on Friday at Trinity Baptist Church in Cayce.

Associated Press