FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – A 5-year-old North Carolina girl was raped and killed the same day she was taken from her home, according to anreleased Friday.
Shaniya Davis was sexually assaulted and asphyxiated Nov. 10, the day her mother reported her missing from the trailer park where she was staying, according to the warrant. Authorities embarked on a nearly weeklong search that ended when the girl’s body was found dumped off a rural road.
Mario McNeill is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree rape of a child in the warrant, which was issued after police said they collected hair and fibers, clothes, and a straw from his 1997 Mitsubishi Galant. He was initially charged only with kidnapping.
The girl’s mother, Antoinette Davis, is charged with filing a false police report, trafficking her daughter and child abuse involving prostitution. Her family members have said they do not believe the charges.
It is still not clear howand Davis knew each other.
Earlier in the week, authorities said McNeill admitted taking the girl. Fayetteville Police Chief Tom Bergamine would not say during a news conference late Thursday whether McNeill admitted to the child’s death.
A search warrant says McNeill picked the girl up in front of her home and drove her more than 30 miles to a hotel in Sanford, where she was last seen alive. Surveillance video captured McNeill carrying the girl in the building.
“It is our sincere hope that the Davis family may now begin to put this horrific event behind them and begin the healing process,” Bergamine said.
A message seeking comment was left at the office of McNeill’s lawyer, Allen Rogers.
Tomeka Gray, 20, who is dating McNeill’s brother, said the accusations don’t jibe with what she knows about him. She said McNeill was a good uncle and father who came to see her daughter in the hospital with an armload of baby items right after she was born earlier this year.
“I’ve never known him to do anything like that,” Gray told The Associated Press. She said when she saw the story on the news her first thought was that she hoped authorities would catch the horrible person who did it.
“And then to find out it was him … I was crying. I was shocked,” she said.
Meanwhile, Shaniya’s father, Bradley Lockhart, appeared on Friday’s “,” where Winfrey asked him if he had anything to say to Davis. He told The Associated Press earlier that he had cared for Shaniya for several years but decided to give Davis a chance to raise her because she seemed to be getting her life together.
“Right now I just think it’s best that we let the justice system take its course,” Lockhart said on the show. “I try to keep my heart as pure as possible, and I’m sure one day I will be able to sit down and talk to her, try and understand what was going through her mind.”
Shaniya Davis’ Brother: “Parents, Don’t Let This Happen To Your Child”, [Updated 11.19.09, 2:00 p.m.]
Shaniya Davis was only five. She liked playing dress-up and dancing to the tunes of soulful music. On November 10, Shinaya’s mother, 25-year-old Antoinette Davis, reported her missing. The police subsequently uncovered shocking information: Officials believed that the little girl’s mother, Antoinette sold her daughter into sexual slavery. They arrested Davis and charged her with human trafficking. On November 16, the little girl’s dead body was found by rescue workers in a wooded area near a highway in Sanford, North Carolina. ESSENCE.COM spoke exclusively with Shaniya’s half-brother, Byron Coleman, 21, about the incident, how he found out, and what he remembers the most about his baby sister.
ESSENCE.COM Can you tell me about your little sister, Shaniya?
BYRON COLEMAN: She was a very sweet little girl but very, very, shy. She wouldn’t go to just anybody, you would really have to know her. And, she would have to get warmed up to you, especially males. She was a daddy’s girl.
ESSENCE.COM: How close were you to her?
COLEMAN: Me and Shaniya were really close. I would see her every time I came home (from college). The last time I saw her is when we went to Chuckie Cheese. It was fun and she enjoyed it. We went there and McDonald’s and then I went to the store to get her some flip-flops. She saw how they lit up when you walked so she was like, “I want these,” and a Barbie doll.
ESSENCE.COM: What else did she like to do?
COLEMAN: Make-up, every girl’s dream. She loved Hannah Montana, I know that. She (also) loved R&B because she was always singing.
ESSENCE.COM: When did you find out what happened to your sister?
COLEMAN: I found out the same day that it occurred. I was in Charlotte. I received a phone call from my dad and saw it all over the news. My father said that my little sister was missing but don’t worry too much because she will be coming home pretty soon.