Faye Swetlik murder: Could the 6-yr-old have been saved if Amber Alert was issued as soon as she went missing?
Following the tragic death of the six-year-old Faye Swetlik, who was found murdered three days after disappearing from her home, many are now wondering if a timely Amber Alert could have saved her life.
Faye was found on Thursday after she vanished from the front yard of her residence in Cayce, South Carolina, on Monday afternoon. Police have now said that her death is being considered a homicide after they found her body along with the corpse of an unidentified man, in the same Churchill Heights neighborhood where Faye and her mother lived. With the entire small town in South Carolina left shocked by the tragedy, a lot of them are now asking why an Amber alert was never issued throughout Faye's disappearance, despite her being gone missing for three full days.
The Amber Alert emergency response is issued for child abduction cases and is used to seek help from the public in looking for the child, by sharing out recurring alerts on mobile phones, online search engines, digital billboards and also through repeated breaks in regular TV programming. Amber Alert, which stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response Alert Program, is run by the US Department of Justice and has been able to help retrieve around 1,000 children since being founded in 1996. Despite the program's success, it was never issued in Faye's case because the police said, her disappearance never met the set qualifications for the alert.
After Faye was found dead, the same day, the Cayce Department of Public Safety tweeted: "There have been a lot of questions regarding why an Amber Alert has not been issued in the disappearance of Faye Swetlik and this case so far does not meet the federally mandated guidelines." In response to the shocking lack of an alert issued, people have taken to social media to express their concerns, claiming these criteria need to change. A Twitter user wrote: "I cannot believe Faye Swetlik didn’t qualify for an Amber Alert. Police say there is no evidence she’s been abducted. It shouldn’t matter, she’s 6 and she’s been missing since Monday. This needs to change." Another said: "Very upset this morning. They found Faye’s body in her neighborhood today. They never even issued an Amber alert for her. I’m just sick. Pray for her poor soul." A third asked: ‘Would an Amber Alert Saved Faye Marie Swetlik? Let’s hear it!"
The law enforcement needs to reasonably believe a child has been abducted, and only then an alert can be issued. Other criteria include the child is believed to be in immediate danger of serious physical harm or death, and must also be under the age of 17. There also needs to be enough descriptive information about the victim to help in recovering the child. In Faye's case, however, investigators with the Cayce DPS or the FBI didn't even claim once that they believed Faye has been abducted or even was in any danger. This comes after investigators released photos of cars spotted near her home, and were even seen looking through trash cans in the neighborhood.
"Unbelievable they’ve never issued an amber alert in the case of missing SC child Faye Swetlik. Said it doesn’t meet the criteria. She’s been missing for 4 days. Wtf more do you need?", a user had asked on Twitter just hours before Faye was found. Another requested: "Please @FBI put Amber alert out. She didn’t come one her family has not found her and she is only 6 yrs old/she needs All the help she can get." Prompting a response from the White House, Faye's case drew Vice President Mike Pence to vow to provide South Carolina with all the resources necessary for their investigation. "We will continue to work closely with state and local authorities to hold any to account who are responsible for this heinous crime," Pence said during an appearance at The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina.
He added: "But I would just urge everyone in South Carolina: Hug your kids today, and keep this little girl and her family and her community in your prayers." No arrests have been made in the case as of yet; details released by investigators are very few too.