Local News

Slain 5-year-old girl remembered in Fayetteville

Posted November 16, 2010 5:32 p.m. EST
Updated November 16, 2010 10:49 p.m. EST

Shaniya Nicole Davis

— Family and friends gathered on Tuesday night to remember a 5-year-old Fayetteville girl found dead one year ago.

Shaniya Davis was reported missing from her Fayetteville home on Nov. 10, 2009. Her body was found in a patch of kudzu off a rural road near the Lee-Harnett County line six days later.

The memorial was held at Freedom International Ministries, 3421 Murchison Road. 

Rachel Cox was living in New Jersey when she heard about Shaniya's death, and felt compelled to reach out to her family.

“She deserves to have a voice from all of us parents, all of us adults, all of the people who feel that this was such a tragedy but something good can come out of it,” Cox said Tuesday.

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.

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 Shaniya's death. 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."

Shaniya's father, Brad Lockhart, started a website in memory of his daughter. He said it is his mission to help save other children. 

"We have to quit looking at the victim dying. We have to figure out ways that we can prevent the victim from dying," he said.