Local News

Cumberland DA: DSS 'dropped the ball' in probe of girl's death

Posted September 30, 2010

— Cumberland County District Attorney Ed Grannis said Thursday that the county's social services department went to great lengths to protect its image during the investigation of the death of Shaniya Davis last year.

The 5-year-old 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.

Grannis and Fayetteville Police Chief Tom Bergamine expressed concerns that Cumberland County Department of Social Services managers were withholding information during the investigation of Shaniya's death, and they asked for a state investigation.

DSS previously worked with Shaniya's family regarding her older brother, according to family members. The case was later closed without action, they said.

Grannis said DSS "dropped the ball" when it came to helping police during the murder investigation, turning over information only after a judge ordered the agency to do so.

"It's critically important that DSS cooperate with law enforcement in every way to possibly save the life of the child. It does not appear that occurred," he said.

Police didn't get any worthwhile information from DSS workers about the Davis family until three days after Shaniya disappeared, he said.

Social workers told investigators that DSS Director Brenda Jackson told them to print copies of all e-mails about the case and then delete the e-mails and to limit written communications about the case.

Shaniya Davis, DA: Agency withheld information during murder investigation

"Is this agency trying to protect those who badly need its help and assistance or trying to protect itself?" Grannis said.

Jackson has declined to discuss her office's involvement with Shaniya's family, citing confidentiality regulations.

Grannis said he wouldn't pursue criminal charges, saying it would be difficult to prove Jackson or others intended to destroy evidence.

Still, he said the DSS' actions have eroded the trust and goodwill between government agencies and the people that they serve.

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.

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.

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."


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  • wildcat Oct 1, 2010

    What is the social services doing to makes things a lot better than it used to be in the welfare of a child? There are foster homes they needs checking out and is doing so for the pay-check only. They just need the child to get it. How sad is that.

  • miss Q B Oct 1, 2010

    there are some jobs that you MUST be passionate about doing & this is one of them. problem is, a lot of them go in just for a paycheck and to do a "job"

    it's not just this county with issues, it's all around NC. i know wake and johnston county can be a joke to. i sure have made a report that never even got a follow up :(
    this involved an OD case with hospital records to prove. some system we have!!!

  • wildcat Oct 1, 2010

    When is the court trial for the two involved start?

  • wildcat Oct 1, 2010

    They disgust me-they certainly do not protect the child.

    I agree with you. You see this over and over and yet nothing is ever done to save these children from harm.

  • wildcat Oct 1, 2010

    protect its image

    Why did not the social services not protect this child instead of protecting themselves and their little image. How selfish of all involved. May always see this precious face.

  • nanny Oct 1, 2010

    I do not trust any DSS workers or their agency at all. I dealt with them during an incident where my granddaughter was abused by the mother's boyfriend. Even after having proof and providing it to DSS, they were still recommending more visits with the mother. This was Wake Co. DSS. They disgust me-they certainly do not protect the child.

  • SO LOW Oct 1, 2010

    It seems as if everyone who SHOULD have been protecting this little girl "dropped the ball" -to put it lightly. She is in a better place now where she will be protected. What a rough life this girl must have lived.

    It just break my heart over and over; everytime I read something about her.

  • smegma Oct 1, 2010

    Old news: DSS Dropped the Ball

  • itsmyownopinion Oct 1, 2010

    While looking for the story of a child in the custody of a DSS worker in the NC Mountains being left in her car while she worked, which came to a bad ending, I found a link that may interest some of you.


  • jbarron4950 Oct 1, 2010

    Government run healthcare is going to be an even BIGGER mistake than Obamination!.....djnt369

    Someone is always trying to sneak attack the president with their irrelavant snide remarks. And just where is the government run healthcare that you speak of. More lies and no facts. Some of you really need to stop making yourselves appear to be so stupid. And then again, maybe you really are.