The body of a 6-year-old South Carolina girl who had gone missing earlier this week was found near the remains of an unidentified man, authorities said Thursday. Police are now treating the child's death as a homicide.
Faye Swetlik was last seen playing in the front yard of her Cayce, South Carolina, home after school on Monday when she was reported missing.
"It is with extremely heavy hearts that we're announcing we have found the body, that the coroner has identified as Faye Marie Swetlik," Cayce Director of Public Safety Byron Snellgrove told reporters. "We are now treating this case as a homicide."
The girl's body was found in her neighborhood of Churchill Heights, near "a deceased male," according to police.
"That investigation has just begun," Snellgrove said of the man found near the girl.
Snellgrove declined to answer any questions or reveal how the girl died.
But, he said, "at this time we feel there is no danger to the community," just outside the state's capital city of Columbia.
No arrests were immediately made and police were seen combing through a wooded area of Churchill Heights following the announcement.
The Cayce Department of Public Safety released a statement saying they were working closely with the coroner's office to process a "large amount of physical evidence."
"While we grieve for Faye and try process this tragedy, we want to ensure you that our work continues," the statement said. "As we weep, we work."
The search for the missing Springdale Elementary School first-grader had captivated the region.
"Our community is devastated," tweeted all-time basketball great Dawn Staley, who is the head women's basketball coach at the nearby University of South Carolina.
"We prayed for a different outcome but our hearts are filled with sorrow. This senselessness must stop. Godspeed to her family, friends and community."
Vice President Mike Pence, while speaking Thursday night at The Citadel military college in Charleston, South Carolina, said the FBI will offer support to state officials in the investigation.
"We were deeply saddened to receive word of the remains of Faye Swetlick were found," Pence said. "Hold this family in your prayers."