Funeral held for slain Fayetteville girl
Posted November 22, 2009 12:03 p.m. EST
Updated November 23, 2009 9:56 a.m. EST
Fayetteville, N.C. — More than a thousand mourners attended the Sunday afternoon funeral of a 5-year-old Fayetteville girl who police say was murdered.
Investigators believe that Shaniya Nicole Davis was raped and killed after she was taken from her home early Nov. 10. Her body was found in a patch of kudzu near the Lee-Harnett county line last Monday.
The public was invited to the service for Shaniya at Manna Church, 5117 Cliffdale Road in Fayetteville. Her father, Bradley Lockhart wasn't scheduled, but he changed his mind as the emotional service got under way.
"Daddy loves you, honey, and I know you are going to be waiting for me. I will see you when I get there (heaven)," he said.
Lockhart turned his grief into a call to help others.
"God has spoken. He's spoken to us through a tragedy, and it brings us here today to unite as one," he said.
"Let's take it back out there in the community," he continued, "where these things that people do not know better, people that can't control themselves, don't understand, that need help but don't know how to find help. We need to put it back out in their hands to prevent things like this."
Levon Davis, Shaniya's uncle, also addressed the mourners and comforted Shaniya's father.
"You're a good man (Lockhart), though, your family is a good family. My family is a good family. From this day forward, for years to come, the Davis family, the Lockhart family will forever be bound together," Levon Davis said.
Carey Lockhart-Davis, Shaniya's aunt, read a poem in remembrance of the girl.
"Now I give you to the Lord above. Watch over my angel, my sweet precious love," she said.
Shaniya's kindergarten classmates at Morganton Road Elementary were her honorary pallbearers.
"You came into our lives for a little while. You left footprints on our hearts, and we will never be the same," read her obituary in the Fayetteville Observer.
Shaniya's family described her in the obituary as liking "girly things," such as dress-up, fixing hair and playing with Barbie dolls. But she also liked to get outside and ride on her scooter.
"Shaniya was a happy, loving and friendly little girl. She was a good little helper around the house," the obituary read. Her favorite colors were pink and yellow.
Her surviving family includes two sisters and four brothers.
Mario Andrette McNeill, 29, has been charged with first-degree murder, rape of a child and kidnapping. Shaniya's mother, Antionette Nicole Davis, 25, is also charged with human trafficking, felony child abuse–prostitution, filing a false police report and obstructing a police investigation.
Security video shows a man police believe to be McNeill carrying Shaniya in a Comfort Suites hotel in Sanford on the morning of her disappearance. Preliminary autopsy results show that she was sexually assaulted and asphyxiated.
A memorial fund has been set in Shaniya's memory. Donations can be made to The Shaniya Davis Trust Fund, c/o Wachovia Bank, 4200 Morganton Road, Fayetteville, N.C. 28304.