Local News

SBI to probe possible DSS cover-up in girl's death

Posted December 7, 2009

— Cumberland County District Attorney Ed Grannis and Fayetteville Police Chief Tom Bergamine have asked the State Bureau of Investigation to look into whether social workers have turned over all of their records in the death of 5-year-old Shaniya Nicole Davis.

The girl was reported missing from her Fayetteville home on Nov. 10. Her body was found in a patch of kudzu off a rural road near the Lee-Harnett County line six days later.

She died of asphyxiation, according to preliminary autopsy results.

Cumberland County Department of Social Services, Cumberland County DSS Was information withheld in Shaniya Davis case?

Mario Andrette McNeill, 29, of 2613 Pine Springs Drive, has been charged with first-degree murder, first-degree rape of a child and first-degree kidnapping in the case. Police have characterized him as a family acquaintance.

Shaniya's mother, Antoinette Nicole Davis, 25, 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" and "did permit an act of prostitution with Shaniya."

McNeill and Antoinette Davis are being held in state prisons in Raleigh for their own protection, authorities said.

The Cumberland County Department of Social Services previously looked at Davis with regard to her 7-year-old son, not Shaniya, according to her uncle, Michael Davis. The case was closed, and Antoinette Davis was able to retain custody of the boy, her uncle said.

DSS Director Brenda Jackson has previously declined to comment on the agency's involvement with the Davis family, citing the investigation into Shaniya's death as well as confidentiality rules for child welfare cases.

Grannis sent a letter Friday to Cumberland County Manager James Martin to notify him that he and Bergamine have requested an SBI investigation of DSS.

"Chief Bergamine has requested the SBI's assistance to determine if Fayetteville police have received complete and accurate records from Cumberland County DSS regarding this case," Grannis wrote. "Based upon the information provided to me and my senior staff by the Fayetteville Police Department concerning these issues, I share their concern, and I have requested the assistance of the SBI to assist us in this regard."

In a statement released by Cumberland County spokeswoman Sally Shutt, Jackson said she would ensure that her office cooperates with authorities to resolve the matter.

Neither Jackson nor Grannis returned phone calls Monday seeking further comment.

Shaniya's father, Bradley Lockhart, declined to comment. The girl lived with him and his sister until early October, when he allowed her to go live with Antoinette Davis.

Authorities with the state Child Fatality Task Force already are looking into any DSS contact with the Davis family. The task force studies all child deaths in North Carolina to make recommendations to legislators on changes to state laws and administrative polices to prevent future deaths.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • nixonlisa70 Dec 8, 2009

    DSS is North Carolina is corrupt, they do what they want to do, when they want to do it without any care for the law or policies. They are never held accountable for what they do! They forge documents, falsify records, commit perjury, lie, Break the law, fail to properly investigate reports of abuse, fail to protect children who need it and remove children who don't need to be removed. They abuse their power and if you cross them, they will take your children without the threat of immediate harm...because they can!

    Kayla Allen, Sean Paddock, Jeremiah Swafford, Jace Fulbright, Shaniya Davis, DeVarion Gross,Tiffany Wright and her baby, Shinaye Smith, Natalia mcCarthy, Anijah Burr, Adriann Lynne Early, This is just a few of them folks...all of these North Carolina Children are dead and the one thing they had in common...DSS!

    You may visit my blog at http://stopcorruptdss.wordpress.com

    I am also the Surry County Examiner http://www.examiner.com/x-29636-Surry-County-CPS-Examiner

  • morebadnews Dec 8, 2009

    affirmativediversity...apparently you read part of my comment and did not finish. I believe I stated DSS can remove children when they are at risk of immediate harm. Which is what "imminent threat of harm" means. But as I said...DSS CANNOT just go into a home and remove children. Doesn't matter if 1 or 25 calls are received stating something is wrong. Do you know how many times people get mad at someone else and call DSS for no reason at all and there is no abuse and/or neglect in a home? You can't just walk into a home and assume there is a problem and start placing kids into foste care. It does not work that way. As you said there has to be "imminent threat of harm" and as I said DSS can't just remove children because there might be a problem there has to be risk of immediate harm. I do believe we are saying the samething here.

  • JennyT Dec 8, 2009


    As usual. DSS is a crock-o-cr** and needs to be overhauled. I have personally seen them accuse a mother of abusing her kids, then SEND THE CHILDREN HOME WITH THE MOTHER! I was surprised to see the child alive again. DSS is quick to interfere where there is no actual abuse, but usually drops the ball when there is a problem.

    I think it is a society issue, since that's our tax money funding DSS. We need to demand accountability! What are they doing???

    (I know there are a few who actually do their jobs, so they are excluded from my rant here.)

  • TheAdmiral Dec 8, 2009

    I wish I could say that this was an exception to the rule. It's not. It is the rule with a few exceptions.

  • ginaosbo Dec 8, 2009

    DSS seems to be just another gobbermint entitlement program! Jobs for those who can't/won't do them!!

  • Susan08 Dec 7, 2009

    one 4 the team:
    To me, prostitution includes the selling of sex for drugs or money. I beleive the focus on the investigation is that Ms. Davis did "sell" her daughter for a drug debt and that is what prompted the prostitution charge. Please keep in mind that leo's will charge all that they feel applies and those charges have to be approved by a judge or magistrate who will accept them as written or suggest changes. Apparently, the judge/magistrate felt that the charges were appropriate. Now it's up the the prosecutor to prove the charges and make them stick. Please don't give more attention to Ms. Davis than she deserves. There are a lot of cases of human trafficking in this country and maybe this case will show the horrors of the crime and prompt people into action.

  • Myra Dec 7, 2009

    I have just spent a long time viewing a website - Protected To Death By CPS - Way too many and it doesn't seem to be just in North Carolina but rampant in a lot of states. Is the current Director of DSS the one paid $25,000 to leave her job as head of another North Carolina DSS and then take over the Cumberland County office? I read that a while back. I recall one case where Cumberland County refused to listen to family/friends and left a 4 yr old foster-adopted child, Cory McLaughlan, in the home of his foster/adopted mother who CPS knew had made the other child drink rubbing alcohol. Subsequently she beat Cory to death. -- Anything to do with illegal drugs should be reason enough to remove children from the home, as was the case with Shaniya Davis and her 7-year old brother. Too late now CPS.

  • starshield Dec 7, 2009


    Like I said, lazy.

  • affirmativediversity Dec 7, 2009

    "State policies do not allow DSS to just remove children." per morebadsnews


    Actually, YES IT DOES...if there is a IMMINENT THREAT OF HARM...

    Unfortunately most DSS Social Workers are woefully under trained to identify and DOCUMENT "imminent threat of harm"...heck, most DSS Social Workers are hard pressed to define this legal term or give credible examples!


  • affirmativediversity Dec 7, 2009

    Really!! Am I supposed to believe you are what? I am in the real world while you are in fanasty land. per wildcat


    Why so mean spirited? What I am or what position I hold that would place me in a position to have to rely on DSS is simply none of your business.

    I'm sure I am not the only person who in their professional career has been placed in the uneviable position of having to rely on DSS Social Worker AND FOUND THEM LACKING!!!

    I did not attack you personally...unless, of course, you are a DSS Social Worker yourself...in which case that might explain why you are to heck bent on blaming Shaniya's father?