Local News

Cumberland DA to discuss DSS conduct in probe of girl's death

Posted September 29, 2010 10:54 a.m. EDT

Shaniya Nicole Davis

— Cumberland County District Attorney Ed Grannis will hold a news conference Thursday to address the conduct of the county's social services department in 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.

An autopsy determined that she 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.

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."

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.

Grannis and Bergamine expressed concerns that DSS case workers were withholding information during the investigation of Shaniya's death, and they asked for a state investigation.

Last week, Grannis said he wanted Cumberland County deputies to look into DSS' actions, saying the state investigation left questions unanswered.