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Board backs Cumberland DSS chief in wake of girl's death

Posted October 8, 2010

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— The board of Cumberland County's social services department on Friday expressed its support for the agency's director, who has come under fire for actions during the 2009 investigation into the disappearance and death of Shaniya Davis.

The 5-year-old girl was reported missing from her Fayetteville home on Nov. 10, and her body was found six days later in a kudzu-covered field near the Lee-Harnett county line.

Cumberland County District Attorney Ed Grannis last week criticized DSS' actions during the police investigation of the case. He said the agency "dropped the ball" and appeared to be more interested in protecting its image than in protecting children.

Referring to a State Bureau of Investigation report on DSS' actions, Grannis said the agency waited three days for a judge's order before turning over records regarding Shaniya's mother, Antoinette Davis, to police.

Relatives have said that DSS had worked previously with Shaniya's family regarding her older brother, and the case was closed without action.

Grannis said the move delayed police in finding Mario Andrette McNeill, an acquaintance of Davis' who has been charged in Shaniya's death.

Following a three-hour, closed-door meeting Friday, DSS Board Chairman Chet Oehme said the agency provided records to investigators in a timely manner.

"We have concluded that the agency worked diligently with the Fayetteville Police Department to provide all information relevant to this child fatality in a timely manner," Oehme said.

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

Cumberland County Department of Social Services Cumberland DSS refutes criticisms following girl's death

Oehme said in a statement that police asked DSS to delete e-mails about Shaniya's case from personal computers. All e-mails were maintained on the agency's server, and they were handed over to the SBI for its investigation, he said.

Fayetteville police reviewed all DSS information about the Davis family in the agency's office on the day after Shaniya disappeared, but investigators chose not to take copies of files with them, Oehme said.

The five-member board "asked pointed questions of the director" during the meeting, he said. "We support her decisions," he said, adding that he though the SBI report included false information.

Still, the board is considering hiring an outside consultant to evaluate the agency.

Jackson has declined to comment about the case, citing confidentiality regulations.

"I appreciate the support of the board, and I'm proud of the staff and the work that we do," she said after leaving the board meeting Friday.

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

McNeill, 29, has been charged with kidnapping, raping and killing the girl. Arrest warrants state that Davis, 25, prostituted Shaniya, and an autopsy report noted that investigators believe she was used to pay off a drug debt.

38 Comments

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  • Eduardo1 Oct 8, 2010

    RB......you are right on the case.....DISGUSTING

  • itsmyownopinion Oct 8, 2010

    The father was never married to the "mother" and had no court ordered custody. He kept the child as much as he could at the pleasure of the mother. If the mother wanted to take the child for a visit he had no choice but to cooperate. Had he not done so, he may not have been able to have the child with him at all.

  • Adelinthe Oct 8, 2010

    What a surprise!

    The director ordered her staff to withhold information from the police, and the board thinks that's ok?

    It's disgusting is what it is.

    God bless.

    RB

  • airbornemonty Oct 8, 2010

    Don't say I didn't tell you so in my previous post, these board people just wanted to get together, shoot the breeze and have lunch. And who paid for the meeting and lunch? Surely you know we did!

    As far as the janitor's job is concerned, its safe for the time being but don't make any bets on it.

  • shortcake53 Oct 8, 2010

    No surprise here. Of course they will find a way to be cleared of any responsibility. How else could they sleep at night?

  • wildcat Oct 8, 2010

    makes you think there may be a connection.
    coledurango

    Nonconnection. Lets not drag up unnecessary things unrelated to this case. They have the right people locked up.

  • wildcat Oct 8, 2010

    Who was backing this young girl and keeping her safe from any harm? Now she is dead because the social services never had her back. How cruel!

  • ghimmy51 Oct 8, 2010

    And the board is hoping a whitewash job will make it all go away ... all in the interest of DSS.

  • coledurango Oct 8, 2010

    Has anyone realized yet hat this little girls body was found within 500 feet of William Schliebeners trailer where the 14 yr old NY girl was being held.... makes you think there may be a connection.

  • wildcat Oct 8, 2010

    Social Services in my opinion did not do their job well enough.

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