Local News

Warrants: Explicit photos found on murder suspect's phone

Posted January 28, 2010 11:06 a.m. EST
Updated January 29, 2010 4:47 p.m. EST

Shaniya Nicole Davis

— Sexually explicit photos of a young girl were found on a cell phone belonging to a man charged with kidnapping, raping and killing a 5-year-old Fayetteville girl in November, according to search warrants.

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.

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 the case. Police have characterized him as a family acquaintance.

The search warrants, which were unsealed this week, show that Fayetteville police detective Jason Sondergaard found sexually explicit photos on McNeill's Virgin Mobile cell phone, including some that depicted a young girl. Sondergaard consulted with physician who specializes in forensic pediatrics to try to determine the age of the girl in the photos, but she could only confirm that the photos were of a young black girl.

It's unclear whether the photos depicted Shaniya.

Security video from a Sanford motel taken shortly after Shaniya's disappearance showed McNeill with her. Investigators said in the search warrants that the pair was at the motel for about 90 minutes.

Shaniya's 7-year-old brother also told investigators that a man with dreadlocks whom he didn't recognize was in the family's home the night before Shaniya was abducted, according to the warrants. McNeill had dreadlocks at the time of his arrest.

The search warrants show that police also searched the home on Sleepy Hollow Drive that Shaniya shared with her mother and brother, a house where McNeill was staying, a car belonging to a man who was later cleared of any wrongdoing, two other cell phones, a portable GPS navigation device, a computer and two digital cameras.

A warrant detailing the search of McNeill's 1997 Mitsubishi Galant was never sealed. Police said they seized clothing that could fit a child, a plastic straw and other items from the car.

An autopsy determined Shaniya died of asphyxiation and that injuries she suffered were consistent with a sexual assault. The autopsy report noted she was wearing only an adult-sized black sweatshirt and panties when her body was found.

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."

Notes from a medical examiner included in the autopsy report state that Davis "reportedly owed money to McNeill and offered the daughter in exchange for forgiveness of her debt."