Local News

Police to file new charges in 5-year-old's death

Posted November 19, 2009 4:23 p.m. EST
Updated November 19, 2009 8:05 p.m. EST

Shaniya Nicole Davis

— Mario Andrette McNeill, 29, of 2613 Pine Springs Drive, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 5-year-old Shaniya Davis.

Shaniya was reported missing from her home, at 1116-A Sleepy Hollow Drive in Fayetteville, by her mother on Nov. 10. Volunteer searchers found her body Monday afternoon in the woods off N.C. Highway 87 near the Lee-Harnett county line.

No cause of death has been released.

Prosecutors in Cumberland and Lee counties met for four hours Wednesday to discuss how to handle the case. They must prove where the girl was killed to establish legal jurisdiction to prosecute someone on a murder charge.

Fayetteville police and Cumberland County District Attorney Ed Grannis met again Thursday to discuss the case.

A source close to the investigation told WRAL News that there's a strong likelihood Cumberland County will handle the case.

McNeill, 29, was charged last Friday with first-degree kidnapping in Shaniya's disappearance. In an affidavit for a warrant to search McNeill's 1997 Mitsubishi Galant, investigators said McNeill told them he picked Shaniya up in front of her home and drove her to a Sanford hotel. A Nov. 10 hotel security video from a Comfort Suites in Sanford appears to show him carrying her.

Shaniya's mother, Antoinette Nicole Davis, 25, was arrested last weekend and 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 she "did permit an act of prostitution with Shaniya."

Police haven't said whether they're looking at someone other than Davis or McNeill as a suspect in Shaniya's death.

Was girl payment for drug debt?

Meanwhile, investigators are trying to determine what might have prompted Davis' alleged actions, including allegations that Shaniya was given up to settle a drug debt, said Theresa Chance, spokeswoman for the Fayetteville Police Department.

“Lots of people are saying that, so it’s part of the investigation,” Chance said.

She declined to comment on whether Davis owed money to McNeill.

Both McNeill and Davis are being held in isolation at the Cumberland County Detention Center for their protection, authorities said.

Funeral arrangements for Shaniya weren't complete Thursday.

Residents of the Sleepy Hollow Mobile Home Park where she lived with Davis planned a Thursday night prayer service to remember the girl.