The search for a six-year-old girl from South Carolina is
over after police identified the remains of missing Faye Swetlik, who
disappeared while she played in her family’s front yard. After viewing the
coroner’s report, authorities have announced that they are treating Faye’s
death as a homicide—no arrests have yet been made.
The Cayce Department of Public Safety’s director, Byron
told the media, “As this community has been working hard to find Faye and
bring her home safely, we wanted to let you know as soon as possible.
Snellgrove went on to say, “We also need to inform you that during the course
of our investigation, a deceased male was located in the Churchill Heights
neighborhood. That investigation has just begun.” It is unclear at this point
whether or not the aforementioned deceased male is in any way related to Faye
Swetlik’s missing persons case.
The investigation only began 5 days ago, when Faye disappeared from her family’s front yard shortly after returning home from school. Faye’s mother was home at the time of the disappearance. Friends and family were shocked to hear of Faye’s disappearance, and Ruth Collins, her grandmother, told the local television station WTVD, “I want my baby back. We gotta find her.”
An Amber Alert was never issued for Faye, because
authorities had no reason to believe the girl had been kidnapped, as opposed to
walking out of her yard of her own accord, or other circumstances. Investigators
assigned to Faye’s missing person case have released photos of two vehicles who
were in the area of the Churchill Heights neighborhood subdivision, denoting
that the drivers may have crucial information about the case.
The case has garnered national
media attention, with FBI officials going door to door to canvass the
neighborhood in search of answers. On the day Faye’s remains were discovered in
her neighborhood, Vice President Mike Pence was also in South Carolina, having
stopped in the Midlands. When he addressed cadets at The Citadel in Charleston,
he stated the following, “And as your Vice President, and as a father, let me
say, we were deeply saddened to receive word this afternoon that the remains of
Faye Swetlik, a six-year-old girl who went missing from her parents’ front
yard, just three days ago, has been found.”
Pence went on to say that he’d spoken with the FBI’s Director,
Christopher Wray, and the governor of South Carolina, Henry McMaster, to ensure
them that the full arsenal of resources held by the federal government would be
made available to investigators in pursuit of answers. “But I would just urge
everyone in South Carolina, “ Pence said, “hug your kids today. And keep this little
girl and her family and her community in your prayers.”
The case is not over for investigators and the Faye Swetlik
hotline is still open for anyone with information that could be useful in the homicide
investigation. Authorities are asking that anyone with information call (803)
For the past two weeks, the true-crime world has had its eyes fixated on missing minors, Joshua “J.J.” Vallow and Tylee Ryan, and the mysterious string of deaths that preceded their disappearance. This case of missing children has already taken so many unexpected turns, leaving family, friends, and journalists alike wondering what disturbing new detail will emerge yet.
last confirmed sighting of J.J. was back in September of 2019, when his
mother, Lori Vallow pulled him out of public school, citing
a new job offer out of state that would require her to move her children as
well. It was not entirely unexpected, as Vallow also cited the recent death of
J.J.’s father as another reason why their family life remained in flux. What
she failed to mention was the fact that J.J.’s father, Charles Vallow, had been
murdered the previous July when her own brother, Alex Cox, shot Charles in
self-defense. She swiftly remarried a man named Chad Daybell, who had also
recently lost his spouse, Tammy Daybell. Both Charles Vallow and Tammy Daybell’s
deaths are currently being investigated as “suspicious” by respective law enforcement
agencies. Lori Vallow’s brother, Alex Cox, also died in the weeks following the
shooting death of her husband, but his cause of death has yet to be released.
This spinning vortex of death and loss was further
compounded by the noticeable absence of 17-year-old Tylee and 7-year-old J.J.
It wasn’t until one of their grandparents called authorities requesting a welfare
check that a missing persons investigation was launched. Lori Vallow and Chad
Daybell fled the area following the execution of the search warrant and were
finally tracked down in late January on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Vallow
was instructed to produce her children by January 30th or face criminal
charges. January 30th came and went, and still no word from J.J. or
Now, additional warrants executed by authorities have revealed
another disturbing detail. According to the EastIdahoNews, investigators have discovered
a storage locker in Rexburg, Idaho listed in Lori Vallow’s name. The
storage locker contained items that law enforcement strongly believe belonged
to the two children, including photo albums, bicycles, scooters, and winter
Seventeen-year-old Tylee’s cell phone was also found in Lori Vallow’s possession when authorities finally tracked them down in Hawaii, without their missing children. Police were able to determine that the phone had been used several times since September when the children were last seen, though it is difficult to say by whom.
J.J.’s autism required the use of a service dog, primarily
for sleeping soundly through the night. A dog trainer based in Arizona has come
forward with startling information, “I was surprised and shocked when I got the
call from Lori that she needed to re-home the dog.” Her only explanation was
that her husband had recently passed and the family was moving to Idaho.
J.J. is described as a white male with brown hair and brown eyes, standing at 4′0″ and weighing 50 pounds. He also goes by J.J. and may be in need of medical attention. Tylee is described as a white female with blonde hair and blue eyes, standing at 5′0″ and weighing 160 pounds.
Anyone with information about the children is asked to call
Rexburg police at 208-359-3000 or report it to the National Center for Missing
and Exploited Children.
Law enforcement is remaining tight-lipped on the subject of a case that has mystified the town of Placerville, California. Eleven-year-old Roman Anthony Lopez was last seen at the family home on Coloma Street, January 11, 2020. Later that same day, the boy’s body was reportedly discovered. In a Facebook post, the Placerville Police Department said that the body was found. They also reported at a press conference that they discovered the body following a search of the area, and were investigating his death as “suspicious.” Little else was disclosed, however, leaving the community with devastating news, but no answers.
The radio silence from law enforcement officials has led the
public and the press asking questions, but maybe none so fervently as Roman’s
biological mother, Rochelle “Shelly” Lopez. Lopez is a military veteran, who
unfortunately developed an addiction to pills following an injury she sustained
while deployed in Iraq. Because of these circumstances, it was his biological
father, Jordan Piper, who was awarded primary custody of Roman. According to
Lopez, Piper had relocated several times over the past few years, and had made
it difficult for Lopez to see her son.
One of the most tragic aspects of the case so far is that Lopez learned of her son’s death through an online news article. Lopez told KOVR, “Why didn’t anybody let me know? Why didn’t they even know I existed? People in that town didn’t even know that I was his mother. There are so many things that are wrong with this situation and don’t add up and don’t make sense.”
There were seven other children in the home where Roman was
last seen. Those children were reportedly moved into protective custody
following the onset of the investigation. A spokesperson for the family told
Oxygen.com, “The Rochelle Lopez family has full confidence in the law
enforcement agencies investigating Roman’s death and know there will be resolve
and closure.” The family has offered no other comment as the family prepared to
travel to California in order to mourn the loss of Roman Lopez.
On January 16, the Placerville Police Department issued a
statement, “We realize that the press and public are looking for answers and
mourning the loss of Roman. The police department has also been affected, and
has been working tirelessly to complete the investigation. The complexity of
the case will require time and patience.” They went on to say that a pathology
report regarding the boy’s cause of death will not be available for about a
Investigating authorities have encouraged anyone with information regarding Roman Lopez’s death to call Detective Luke Gadow at (530) 642-5210, ext. 116.
Authorities and investigators in Texas have renewed vigor in their search for four-year-old Maleah in Texas, following allegations the prime suspect knew of “a good place to dump a body.”
After chasing down multiple leads with search teams, Texas EquuSearch announced this week they would be suspending their search for Maleah Davis until they could refocus their investigation. Maleah has been missing since April.
Surveillance footage provided investigators with an insidious picture of the hours before and after Maleah’s disappearance. On the morning of April 30, 2019, a surveillance photo shows Maleah walking with her mother’s former fiancé, Derion Vence, through the backyard of their Houston apartment. Sources in the Houston Police Department told a local Houston paper it’s the last known image of Maleah before she disappeared.
An hour later, surveillance footage shows Vence returning to his vehicle, with no sign of Maleah. Surveillance footage from May 3rd shows Vence making several trips out of the apartment, carrying things like a trash bag in a laundry basket and a bottle of bleach.
Vence would later give a statement that on May 3rd, they left in the evening—Himself, Maleah, and Maleah’s young brother—to collect Maleah’s mother from the airport. They were en route when Vence claimed he pulled over to examine a damaged tire, and was ambushed by three men who knocked him unconscious and stole the Nissan Altima he was driving with Maleah inside.
Police finally located the vehicle in the parking lot of a nearby shopping mall. Vence was soon arrested for tampering with evidence after investigators found blood in his apartment that matched DNA taken from Maleah’s toothbrush. Scent dogs alerted on decomposing material found on some of the objects Vence carried out of the apartment on May 3rd. While the motive to cover up his actions remains unclear, there have been rumors it may have something to do with abuse allegations made against Maleah’s birth mother and father in August of 2018.
Now, in tandem with investigators, Equusearch will be searching an area along a mail route Vence used to work, after receiving intel that Vence allegedly once told his mother-in-law, “If I ever murder someone, I can dump a body in Rosharon that will never be found.” Vence remains in the Harris County Jail on a $45,000 bond while police continue to investigate discrepancies in his story with the help of the surveillance footage taken from the security cams.
Maleah has black hair and brown eyes, stands at about 3 feet tall and weighs approximately 30 to 40 pounds. If you have any information about her disappearance, call 713-308-3600.
Americans are captivated by missing child stories, haunted by the nagging specter of “What if this happened to my child?”
The year 2018 was punctuated by a handful of missing child cases that were covered by mainstream media, including Jayme Closs, Mollie Tibbetts, and Karlie Gusé. Interest in missing children cases continues to grow with the production of documentaries and docuseries about famous missing child cases, like Madeline McCann and Jan Broberg. This cultivated curiosity can only benefit the ultimate goal of keeping a missing person’s face in the public eye in the interest of unearthing unexplored leads in their cases. Here is a list of fast facts about missing child cases to inform coverage in the media and online.
Law enforcement in the United States received reports of
424,066 missing children in 2018.
The FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing
Person File states that as of December 31st, 2018, there were 85,459
active missing person records in which children under the age of 18 account for
It’s estimated that 1,435 kidnappings occur every year, but
due in large part to a majority of those being familial abductions, not all
have likely been reported.
The Second National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted,
Runaway, and Throwaway Children released by the Department of Justice in 2002,
spanning the years of 1997-1999, reported that 203,900 of the 797,500 reported
missing children in a one-year period were abducted by family members, and 58,200
were abducted by non-relatives. 115 of those reported cases were classified as
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited
Children, since 1965, there have been 325 reported infant abductions in the
United States. Of those abducted children, 140 were taken from healthcare
facilities, 138 were taken from the home, and 47 were abducted from other locations.
Of those abducted infants, 16 remain missing.
Not all missing minors and children qualify for Amber
Alerts. America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response Alerts are emergency
messages broadcast when a law enforcement agency determines that a child has
been abducted and is in imminent danger. The broadcasts include information
about the child and the abductor, including physical descriptions as well as
information about the abductor’s vehicle—which could lead to the child’s
recovery. Missing children and teenagers who are classified as “runaways” may
not qualify for an Amber Alert because there is no evidence of abduction.
When people think of abductions, they likely think of
stranger danger and violent attacks. However, in 2016, 60% of all AMBER Alerts
that were issued were for abductions committed by a family member.
Since 1997, the AMBER Alert Program has been responsible for
the safe recovery of 957 children.
The AMBER Alert system was named for Amber Hagerman, who was
abducted and killed in 1996.
Missing Children in Media
Etan Patz, a six-year-old boy who disappeared on his way to
his bus stop in Manhattan, was one of the first missing children to be featured
on a milk carton.
Media coverage of missing child cases has been elevated in recent years by American television personality John Walsh, host of America’s Most Wanted. John Walsh became an anti-crime advocate following the disappearance and murder of his son, Adam Walsh, in 1981.
The disappearance of 3-year-old Madeline McCann is often regarded as one of the highest-profile missing child cases globally.
NCMEC received 23,500 reports of endangered runaways in
2018. One in seven of those children were estimated to be victims of sex
The average age of a child sex trafficking victim is 15
years old, according to NCMEC reports.
Child sex trafficking has been reported in every single
state in the United States.
The age group of children targeted by strangers in
abductions are female children aged 12-17. This aligns with approximate age
range of minor children targeted for sex trafficking.
The average minor victim of online predatory behavior is 15
years of age.
Of the predators targeting minor victims online, 82% are male, 9% are female, and 9% could not be determined.
Online predators most commonly target children on social media, photo sharing platforms, and video gaming platforms.
Autism & wandering
Between 2007 and 2017, 952 children with autism were
reported missing to NCMEC. In 61% of cases, those children were classified as “endangered
runaways” or lost, injured, or otherwise missing (20%).
Almost half of the cases of children were autism reported (48%) were recovered within one day of going missing, and 74% were recovered within 7 days.
We can help…
If your child has gone missing, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free consultation and learn how our expertise and experience can provide you answers in the search for your missing child. Call 317-951-1100, or visit us online at www.lauthmissingpersons.com
There are many different types of missing persons—adults with mental illness, homeless individuals, children, and runaways. Each type of case deserves to be treated with a special approach, with careful regard given to the circumstances of each case. Perhaps the type of case that deserves the most particular care and approach is the case of a missing/abducted infant.
In good hands
The presumption behind any missing infant case, because they cannot take of themselves, is they were abducted by an adult. When an infant’s whereabouts cannot be accounted for, it leaves investigators with a very polarizing theory of the case: The baby is with a caregiver or something tragic has occurred. In March 2019, the Indianapolis Police Department found themselves in the middle of a search for 8-month old Amiah Robertson. The infant was last seen on March 9th on the west side of the city in the custody of her mother’s boyfriend, Robert Lyons. He left the residence he was at with the infant, and returned empty-handed around 10 PM. Lyons assured authorities Amiah was in good hands, but because police could not verify the baby’s whereabouts, they officially classified the investigation as a homicide. Now, Robert Lyons has been named a suspect by IMPD in the infants disappearance, while Amber Robertson, Amiah’s mother, remains cooperative with authorities.
Familial vs. stranger abductions
In cases of missing children, familial abductions, or abductions by a party close to the child’s family, are the most common. But the data on missing infants indicates the odds of being abducted by a stranger are nearly half. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children lists the number of infants abducted in the United States since 1965 as 325 where 138 of those children were taken from their homes, and another 140 were taken from health care facilities. Only 47 were abducted from other locations. Women who take babies from health care facilities are generally of childbearing age who may appear pregnant, or express they have lost a child or are unable to have a child. They often live in the vicinity of the abduction and impersonate health care personnel in order to gain access at a facility. They rely heavily on deception and manipulation in order to carefully plan the abduction, but usually not with any particular focus on a single infant. These are crimes of opportunity, which is why such a woman would have lots of detailed questions for hospital staff about the layout of the building and procedures following birth.
Just last June, Gloria Williams was sentenced to 18 years for abducting a baby girl from a hospital in Florida and subsequently raising the child as her own into adulthood. On July 10, 1998, Williams posed as a nurse in order to kidnap Kamiyah Mobley, when she was only hours old. She used fraudulent documents to raise the baby under a different name. It wasn’t until investigators followed a tip made to NCMEC about claims Kamiyah made that she was kidnapped from a Jacksonville hospital the day she was born.
How to protect your newborn
Despite this narrative continuing to terrify expectant parents, the FBI assures us this cloak and dagger scenario is far less common today. Ashli-Jade Douglas, an FBI intelligence analyst working in the Crimes Against Children Unit, credits this decline in abductions to new developments in security technology. Hospitals across the nation are implementing the use of security bracelets on babies, so if they make an unauthorized exit from the building, alarms immediately go off. This security measure, however, has a dark consequence. Douglas says, “Now, women who desperately want a child—and are willing to go to extreme lengths to get one—have to gain direct contact with their victims, and that’s when things can turn violent.”
The FBI advises “exercising good sense online and in the home.” On the internet, don’t be an over-sharer when it comes to personal details, and always have your security settings restricted. Any law enforcement official or private investigator will tell you it’s easy to use this information to plan the abduction. “We have seen several recent cases involving social networking sites,” Douglas explains, “and we see how easy it is to use these websites to gain access to targets.” The FBI also cautions against displaying any exterior decorations, such as pink or blue balloons, indicating there is a new baby in the home.