Fayetteville, Cumberland County, North Carolina prosecutors said Wednesday that they plan to seek the death penalty against the man charged with killing a 5-year-old Fayetteville girl, Shaniya Davis almost two years ago but not against the girl’s mother.
Mario Andrette McNeill, 30, has been charged with murder, kidnapping and rape in the death of Shaniya Davis, whose body was found in a kudzu patch near the Lee-Harnett county line on Nov. 16, 2009, six days after her mother, Antoinette Nicole Davis, reported her missing from their Fayetteville home.
Authorities believe Antoinette Davis is complicit in her daughter’s death. Arrest warrants stated that she “did knowingly provide Shaniya with the intent that she be held in sexual servitude” and “did permit an act of prostitution with Shaniya.”
An autopsy determined that Shaniya died of asphyxiation and that injuries she suffered were consistent with a sexual assault. A medical examiner noted in the autopsy that investigators believe the girl was used to pay off a drug debt.
A Cumberland County grand jury indicted Antoinette Davis in July on charges of first-degree murder, indecent liberties with a child, felony child abuse, felony sexual servitude, rape of a child, sexual offense of a child by an adult offender, human trafficking and making a false police report.
She was arraigned Wednesday, and a judge set her bond on the murder charge at $2 million. Bonds totaling $1.5 million were set previously on the other charges.
McNeill, whom police have described as a friend of the family, is being held without bond at Central Prison in Raleigh.
Courtesy of WRAL
Will there ever be justice fo Shaniya Davis? Personally, there will never be ENOUGH justice served for this precious child.
Take care and STAY SAFE!
Five-year-old Shaniya Davis had barely begun to live when she was raped and strangled and her body dumped on the side of a road near the Harnett-Lee county line in November 2009.
But the ramifications of her horrific death continue to reverberate in the community and in the agencies that investigated her case.
A year later, the fallout continues.
Cumberland County’s Department of Social Services, accused of not cooperating with police in the tension-filled days immediately after Shaniya’s disappearance, was the subject of an investigation sought by District Attorney Ed Grannis.
The investigation came to a close in September, and Grannis has decided not to prosecute DSS officials on charges of obstruction of justice.
But the circumstances surrounding Shaniya’s death have led to the resignation of Chet Oehme, chairman of the Social Services Board, and continue to shine a spotlight on Social Services Director Brenda Reid Jackson, who has been at the center of a firestorm of criticism.
Cumberland County commissioners are now considering replacing Oehme with one of their own in an effort to provide better oversight.
A year after Shaniya’s death, one big question remains: Can Social Services, Fayetteville police, the Board of Commissioners and the District Attorney’s Office put aside their differences and work together?
At 6:53 a.m. on Nov. 10, Antoniette Davis called Fayetteville police to say her daughter, Shaniya, was missing from her home in Sleepy Hollow Mobile Home Park.
An Amber Alert went out just after noon for Shaniya, who had last been seen wearing a blue sleep shirt and pink panties.
Davis and her 7-year-old son spent that afternoon at the police station, answering investigators’ questions.
Two days later, police released surveillance video, taken the morning Shaniya was reported missing, showing a man holding her in his arms in front of an elevator at a Sanford hotel. The video was time-stamped 6:11 a.m.
The man in the video was identified as Mario Andrette McNeill, who turned himself in to police Nov. 13 and was charged with kidnapping.
The next day, Shaniya’s mother was charged with human trafficking and prostituting her child, filing a false police report and obstructing justice.
The search continued for Shaniya as law enforcement and dozens of volunteers combed the woods and swamps in the area of southern Lee and northern Harnett counties.
The search ended about 1 p.m. Nov. 16, when Shaniya’s body was found among the thick kudzu vines that covered woods off N.C. 87 near Carolina Trace.
On Nov. 20, McNeill was charged with raping and murdering Shaniya.
Shaniya was buried in Fayetteville Memorial Cemetery on Nov. 22 after a funeral attended by nearly 2,000 people.
By then, the case had become a national story on television news channels. That’s how NBA star Shaquille O’Neal learned of Shaniya’s death. He paid for her funeral.
A week after Shaniya’s abduction, Social Services Director Brenda Reid Jackson met with homicide investigators at the District Attorney’s Office to review what her department knew about Antoniette Davis and her children.
The exact nature of the department’s relationship with Davis’ family still isn’t known. Jackson has used state privacy statutes to keep records of the case out of public view.
But one of Shaniya’s uncles, Michael Davis, told reporters that, before Shaniya’s death, the DSS investigated her mother concerning her 7-year-old son.
Shortly after Shaniya died, the co-chairman of a state task force on child fatalities said a team would be sent to Fayetteville to find out when the DSS first made contact with the family, the status of that case at the time of the killing, and whether proper procedures were followed.
Last week, almost a year later, a spokesman for the state task force said no date has been set for the beginning of that review.
Little else about how Social Services handled the case had become public, either, until Grannis held a rare news conference in September.
During the conference, Grannis said police repeatedly had to go to court to force Jackson to give up DSS records that he said eventually proved useful to the murder investigation.
Even with the court orders, Grannis said, the DSS held back records.
The first indication of that came within a day of Shaniya’s disappearance.
A police detective was told by a DSS employee dealing with Shaniya’s brother that “law enforcement is not getting everything, that they are not being told everything and that there is more to this,” Grannis said at his news conference.
After police figured out that an initial batch of records was incomplete and the county supplied a second batch, a DSS employee told a detective that she was being forced to delete all e-mails related to Shaniya’s case, Grannis said.
Grannis decided not to prosecute DSS officials for obstructing justice because, he said, the e-mails weren’t destroyed but printed out and slipped into case files before they were deleted.
That maneuver, Grannis said, was motivated by Jackson’s desire to keep the e-mails away from reporters, who might obtain them under the state public records law. Everything in DSS case files usually is considered a state secret.
Fayetteville Police Chief Tom Bergamine brought the DSS foot-dragging to the attention of Grannis.
In December, Grannis requested that the SBI look into the county’s cooperation with the murder investigation.
The SBI investigation cast a shadow over the DSS for months.
Jackson wrote Grannis in March, seeking an update on what the SBI had found. When Grannis ignored the letter, the county Social Services Board sent another one in August.
Jackson, who had been briefed on the SBI’s preliminary results by a bureau agent, believed the DSS would be cleared.
Grannis finally responded to the DSS letters in September.
Instead of exonerating the DSS, however, Grannis told Oehme, then the Social Services Board chairman, that he was dissatisfied with the SBI report. Grannis asked Sheriff Moose Butler to take a second look at the report.
Butler’s internal-affairs investigators spent less than two weeks on the case.
On Sept. 30, Grannis called his news conference at Butler’s office.
“To say we were not happy with the quality of the SBI report would be an understatement,” Grannis told reporters. “In my 40 years, I’ve never seen anything from the SBI that bothered me this much.”
Grannis, who is retiring at the end of the year, recounted how an SBI agent told his aides that Jackson said a Fayetteville police officer attempted to break into the DSS building on Ramsey Street. She later changed that account, saying a newspaper reporter had tried to break in, Grannis said.
The district attorney was skeptical. The Social Services Board later issued a statement in which Jackson “unequivocally” denied saying any such thing. “This incident never occurred,” the statement read.
On Oct. 8, the board called Jackson in for a closed-door chat. Emerging from the private meeting, the board issued a statement of support for Jackson. It noted she now is meeting regularly with Bergamine, the police chief.
A few days after the board’s statement, Oehme submitted his resignation, effective immediately.
Last week, Oehme said he wasn’t interested in talking about Shaniya’s case in any depth.
“I feel that Social Services did what they were supposed to do,” Oehme said. “And we’re just waiting for the outcome of the perpetrator and the mother.”
Shaniya’s father, Bradley Wayne Lockhart, still is angry at how DSS handled the investigation.
“I’m angry with DSS for withholding information that could have prevented all this,” Lockhart said in a telephone interview from Georgia, where he now lives.
Lockhart said no one from DSS contacted him after police searched Davis’ home in July and found drugs.
“Why couldn’t they call me and tell me they had raided the house and she (Davis) was under investigation?” Lockhart said.
He said he also was upset that Oehme referred to him as a “deadbeat” in his October resignation letter.
But Lockhart said he isn’t dwelling on his anger. Instead, he’s trying to channel it into something positive.
“We can spend most of our time finding fault and pointing fingers, but unless we find the root cause and change it, we won’t fix the problem,” he said.
Asked if DSS could have done more to prevent Shaniya’s death, Grannis replied: “I don’t think you can say that.”
He drew a parallel with the 2009 murder of Eve Carson, the UNC student-body president who was slain during a robbery in 2008. One of the men accused in Carson’s death was on parole at the time.
“I think DSS has a monumental task trying to deal with a lot of broken situations,” Grannis said. “They certainly don’t fix them all, and I don’t think the rest of us can.”
A year after Shaniya’s death, her mother and McNeill have yet to be indicted.
Antoniette Davis remains out of jail on $51,000 bail.
Davis was pregnant when she was arrested. She has since given birth, and the child has been put in foster care, a source close to the family said.
McNeill is being held at Central Prison in Raleigh for safekeeping until his trial. No date has been set.
Grannis said the case is in good hands, with a trio of proven deputy assistants to handle the prosecution.
Bergamine would not speak about Shaniya’s case or the department’s relationship with Social Services. But he did issue a statement through department spokesman Dan Grubb.
“Unfortunately,” the statement read, “Police Department personnel cannot comment regarding an ongoing investigation, but we trust and expect that the Fayetteville Police Department and the Department of Social Services will work together in a professional manner as need arises without regard to any individual case.”
In an e-mail last week, Jackson said DSS and police lawyers have begun to work together on court orders for records.
She added: “We continue to extend heartfelt sympathy to the family of Shaniya Davis and our community which was affected by this tragedy.”
Shaniya’s father has started Shaniya Speaks, a nonprofit group that works to raise awareness of sexual crimes against children.
The group’s name represents what Lockhart said he is trying to be: his daughter’s voice.
He plans to attend a memorial service, sponsored by the organization, on Nov. 16 in the parking lot of the Family Dollar store on Murchison Road.
Grannis said he hopes the case serves as a lesson about cooperation between agencies in any investigation involving a child.
“I think we saw in this case how important that can be,” Grannis said. “You would like to think that with everything that occurred in this child’s case, there will be more of an effort in that regard.”
As I and many others feel Shaniya was failed by many from Daddy, “Mommy Dearest”, knowingly family members, county offices, law enforcement, the school district to the neighbors that she was being abuse and did nothing to save her.
Still to this day I cannot fathom how her mother was allowed out on bail – the court system has already failed Shaniya and the trials haven’t even begun.
Cumberland DA, NC: DSS ‘dropped the ball’ withholding vital info in the death of Shaniya Davis
I called this one back in my November 24, 2009 post! “I have posted before…..many individuals, county offices, law enforcement and Shaniya’s school LEFT HER DOWN! Let alone “MOMMY DEAREST”, family members, irresponsible and ignorant friends of her mother’s and the list goes on. In my book, “they weren’t there for her and her well-being”; bottom-line.”
“There are so many red flags, warning signs, bells and whistles in this sickening, senseless loss of Shaniya from so many respects. How in the hell did this happen?; “How could things have gotten to this?” Others MUST BE HELD accountable for their failures as many failed Shaniya.
Cumberland County DSS MUST be investigated as this agency needs an overhaul just as the SBI did.
FAYETTEVILLE (WTVD) — Cumberland Co. District Attorney Ed Grannis blasted the North Carolina Department of Social Services Thursday – saying the agency withheld vital information in the Shaniya Davis case.
Davis, 5, was taken from her Fayetteville home in November 2009. Mario Andrette McNeill has been charged with kidnapping, rape and murder. He was seen on a hotel surveillance video with Davis.
The girl’s mother, Antoinette Davis, is charged with child abuse involving prostitution.
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Grannis said problems started the day Davis was reported missing when DSS left detectives waiting hours for assistance.
“It was critically important that DSS cooperate in every way to save the life of this child, it does not appear that occurred,” said Grannis.
Eventually, he said it took two court orders to force DSS to handover missing documents that were not included in an initial report to the DA’s office.
Grannis also expressed his disappointment with the State Bureau of Investigation who he said referred to DSS’s lack of cooperation as a misunderstanding – even after interviews with DSS staffers revealed high ranking supervisors told agents on the case to print emails and then delete them to prevent the media from accessing details in their investigation of the Davis Family.
“DSS staff was told to delete emails pertaining to this case, and to not email anymore information,” said Grannis.
A DSS supervisor also alleged a Fayetteville police officer tried to break into DSS offices to obtain information, but later recanted, saying it was a local reporter. DSS has never sought charges against that reporter.
ABC11 asked whether this was a case of criminal negligence. Grannis said because the emails were printed out, there’s no proof they were destroyed.
He said he will not seek criminal indictments, and believes because Davis’s kidnapping, rape, and murder became a high profile case, DSS reacted in such a way to protect its image.
However, he says DSS dropped the ball and failed to protect the 5-year-old.
ABC11 (Raleigh) also asked if the DA’s Office had taken its grievances to the Governor. Grannis said no, insisting that a better spirit of cooperation between police, prosecutors and DSS will result from this incident.
Grannis has enlisted the help of the Cumberland Co Sheriff’s Office to review the DSS handling of the case in order to have “a set of fresh eyes” on the matter.
Respectfully submitted via WTVD-TV/DT
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As I have posted before…..many individuals, county offices, law enforcement and Shaniya’s school LEFT HER DOWN! Let alone “MOMMY DEAREST”, family members, irresponsible and ignorant friends of her mother’s and the list goes on. In my book, “they weren’t there for her and her well-being”; bottom-line.
Monday, November 23rd North Carolina has announced that “a state team of experts will examine any contact that the Cumberland County Department of Social Services had with the family.
Shaniya was SOLD aa a sex slave AT THE AGE OF FIVE YEARS OLD! by her poor excuse of a mother because SHE HAD A DRUG PROBLEM ALLEGEDLY OWED MONEY FOR SAME. She sold/turned her baby girl over for an alleged DRUG debt that she owed to Mario Andrette McNeill who has been charged with first-degree murder, first-degree rape of a child and first-degree kidnapping. This poor excuse of a man DATED Shaniya’s aunt! Mommy Dearest has been charged with human trafficking, felony child abuse-prostitution, filing a false police report and obstructing a police investigation. Arrest warrants state that “DAVIS DID KNOWINGLY PROVIDE SHANIYA WITH THE INTENT THAT SHE BE HELD IN SEXUAL SERVITUDE” (A SEX SLAVE…..A FIVE YEAR OLD CHILD!) and “DID PERMIT AN ACT OF PROSTITUTION WITH SHANIYA” while in HER CUSTODY. If this woman escapes the death penalty many will personally not understand as Shaniya was in her custody and she knowingly knew what would happen to her child!
There are so many red flags, warning signs, bells and whistles in this sickening, senseless loss of Shaniya from so many respects. How in the hell did this happen?; “How could things have gotten to this?” Others MUST BE HELD accountable for their failures as many failed Shaniya.
1. DSS-I don’t care that she was able to maintain custody of her 7-year old child. Didn’t neighbors suspect anything “off” at this home? Didn’t the property manager sense that something was “fishy” at this home? Why didn’t anyone report to DSS and law enforcement of their “gut feelings”?
2. Shaniya’s school – her mother withdrew her from school and was any attempt to contact her father and/or her aunt as to her absences? I am a mother and if a child does not show up for school one day a phone call is made. For God’s sake………..Antoinette took Shaniya out of school if not immediately after her father handed her over to this MONSTER! Why didn’t the school notify her father/aunt, notify law enforcement, DSS and ultimately pay a physical visit to the home!? In my book…….this was irresponsible.
3. Neighbors and the property manager noticed heavier traffic to and from the home that Shaniya was living. What’s up with that? NOT THE NORM, WOULDN’T YOU THINK?
As for McNeill and Davis I hope that justice is served and that NC pushes for the death penalty of McNeill (for God’s sake with his rap sheet he shouldn’t even had been out on the damn street). As for Mommy Dearest………..she is just as guilty for her daughter’s murder as she was in her custody and she traded her as a SEX SLAVE for a drug debt! Mother’s like this…………..who needs enemies. An innocent child at the hands of this monster. I know that murder charges have not been filed but damn she deserves it.
And, I pray that all of the agencies, family members and Dad/Aunt are investigated as to their responsibilities as THEY ALL ULTIMATELY LEFT SHANIYA DOWN. They left her to fend for herself with NO DEFENSE. Shaniya didn’t have a chance in hell once Daddy turned her over to Mommy Dearest.
As for “DSS being overburdened and underfunded” shouldn’t ease their distress – they missed the boat BIG TIME ON THIS INNOCENT, SENSELESS DEATH of this sweet, innocent child.
It’s really a shame that an innocent life of a precious 5 year-old child had to be the WAKE UP CALL to all, including the public. SAD!
The statistics are alarming with homicides and more of innocent children. I personally have a hard time digesting that DSS agencies received 127,192 reports of child abuse and neglect statewide (NC), and workers were ONLY ABLE TO SUBSTANTIATE ABUSE OR NEGLECT IN LESS THAN 10% OF THE REPORTS. This in itself doesn’t smell or feel right to many of us.
I encourage NC’s Child Fatality Task Force in their endeavor from the team of experts. We plead with you to turn over every stone from EVERY angle.
Anny is a Survivor of Domestic Violence with many years as a Certified Advocate. She firmly believes that EVERY female has the absolute right to protect and defend herself mentally, emotionally, spiritually and ultimately physically.
Anny received her PDR (Personal Defense Readiness) Instructor Certification in 2008.
Anny is also a Steward's of Children Authorized Facilitator and Prevention Specialist who trains adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse through Darkness to Light's certification programs.
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