Cayce, SC (Paul Kirby) – Tuesday evening, the healing process began in Cayce. Hundreds of the city's staff members including the mayor, police officers, firefighters, their leaders, and personnel from most Cayce departments joined hundreds from the community to hold a candlelight vigil and remember Faye Marie Swetlik. The family of Faye was also in attendance. Her murder hit the city and the area very hard and an official start for the healing process was needed. This seemed to be it.
News stations from both South and North Carolina were there to chronicle the event and share it with those who couldn’t attend in person. People who were close to Faye joined total strangers who had never met her or her family as they mourned. It’s been a long time since there’s been a crime that’s torn at the heart of Lexington County like this one has.
People from Faye’s life were provided a short time to formally address the crowd. Most just spoke of memories of Faye and the sorrow. Both the principal and assistant principal from Springdale Elementary, the school Faye attended daily, were joined by the normally and naturally bubbly School Resource Officer Sandy Harrison who seemed in great pain herself. Every day, she helps teach the children of the school about life. Tuesday night, she demonstrated to them the process of grieving.
A mental health group was there with its staff to offer advice on ways to deal with this. People could talk with them if they wished. Information was available if longterm help was needed. All these people were there, flanked by so many others, who just needed to be a part of the process. These people came together in the rain just to avail themselves of an opportunity to remember this sweet little girl senselessly taken so young and to start their own healing process.
Director of Cayce’s Department of Public Safety Chief Byron Snellgrove is still very emotional as one could understand. As many years of experience as he’s had dealing with the worst of our society, this case hit the big man very hard. He’s obviously both mentally and physically tired. He was the one who found Faye’s body on a hunch. That tough, experienced, law man who leads so many others so well, really needs some time away from all this himself right now; a time for Chief Snellgrove to begin his own healing process in his own personal way. He needs to make himself as well again as he can be for someone who worked so hard without rest, forever praying they would find Faye alive until they didn’t.
While working this case, Chief Snellgrove was surrounded by the best investigators from Cayce, other local agencies, SLED, and the FBI, yet Faye’s killer robbed us of more than this beautiful child. In killing himself, he also took from us the definitive answer to the question that’s running through everyone’s brain like fiery burning coals, why? We may never know.
The formal healing continues Friday evening with a service at Trinity Baptist Church. That begins at 7:00 p.m. at the campus on Charleston Highway. Everyone is welcome to attend. Later, Faye’s family will have their own private service where everyone except for those invited are asked to stay away.
This is something the entire community may struggle with for some time. For the men and women involved in the case, even longer. Frankly, there will never be an end to the memories for those professionals. The question is, can they keep the case of Faye Marie Swetlik as a memory of their careers or will it haunt them.
Little Faye is gone yet most here in South Carolina believe we’ll meet again one day. Until then Faye, be comforted as you are cradled in the arms of God.