Event raises awareness of violence against children
Posted June 12, 2010 6:03 p.m. EDT
Updated June 13, 2010 4:26 p.m. EDT
Fayetteville, N.C. — The father of a 5-year-old Fayetteville girl who was killed last fall is raising awareness of sex crimes and violence against children.
Shaniya Nicole Davis was reported missing from her 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.
Shaniya's father, Bradley Lockhart, who has since moved to Alabama, was in Fayetteville on Saturday for Shaniya Speaks Day.
The event at the John D. Fuller Recreational Complex on Old Bunce Road aims to prevent sexual crimes against children.
"The process starts by us coming up with a solution. So let's not be a part of the problem, let's be the solution to the problem," Lockhart told those in the crowd Saturday.
Audrey Ferrol did not know Shaniya, but said what happened to her hit home because she has two daughters around the same age.
“It is sad," she said. "I don't know what I would do if something happened to them."
Ferrol was among the hundreds of people who attended Shaniya Speaks Day on Saturday.
“This is an innocent child, I mean precious," Ferrol said of Shaniya.
Lockhart was the keynote speaker at the event and many parents brought their children to hear his message.
“I have two girls and I don't want it to happen to them, so if I can help, I will,” event attendee Jennifer Bennett said.
Shaniya was living with her mother, Antoinette Nicole Davis, at the time of her disappearance. Davis, 25, is 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."
Mario Andrette McNeill, 29, of 2613 Pine Springs Drive, is 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.