Local News

Cumberland DSS chief resigns

Posted October 11, 2010 7:41 p.m. EDT

— The chairman of the board of Cumberland County's social services department has resigned, days after the board expressed its support for embattled director, Brenda Reid Jackson, county commissioner Kenneth Edge said Monday.

Jackson 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.

DSS board chairman Chet Oehme, whose resignation was effective Monday, said in a letter to Board of Commissioners Chairman Billy King that he was leaving because of his inability to lead the present board, Edge said.

In the resignation letter, he also cited the lack of fairness of reporting by local media covering the DSS.

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, 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.

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.