They’ve Got the Guy in the Video, But Five-Year-Old Shaniya Davis Is Still Missing

This is weird upon weird. There’s a nasty missing piece here that I don’t like to dwell on.

On November 11, a family who has had several run-ins with the social services department as well as with the police in Fayetteville, North Carolina called in to the cops to say that their little daughter had disappeared. The child, Shaniya Nicole Davis, 5, was last seen by her mother, Antoinette Davis, around 5:30 a.m., when she allegedly placed the little girl back to sleep on a couch in the living room. Davis, her boyfriend, her sister, along with another infant and Shaniya’s 7-year-old brother were present when the girl disappeared from her home at the Sleepy Hollow Mobile Home Park.

Shaniya Davis

Shaniya Nicole Davis in a recent photograph (Courtesy: CBS News)

Naturally, foul play was immediately suspected, and an Amber Alert was raised. Not only that, Nancy Grace picked it up and gave the case national attention on her evening show on HLN. Grace gets too shrill for my taste, but she does some things right: namely playing up to the hilt the stories of missing or murdered women and children.

A couple of days as well as two suspects later, and police think that they have the perpetrator. Problem is, he isn’t saying anything about what he did with Shaniya. He’s just admitting that he did kidnap her. From the Fayetteville Observer:

Mario Andrette McNeil, 29, turned himself in early Friday after police released surveillance video showing him and Shaniya at a Sanford hotel. A kidnapping charge was then dropped against another man, Clarence D. Coe, who had been arrested Wednesday night.

The case has turned into a nationwide search for Shaniya, involving the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service. Fayetteville police say they’ve received hundreds of tips, and Shaniya’s pictures have aired on national television shows.

But no one has seen the girl since Tuesday morning, when she disappeared from the Sleepy Hollow Mobile Home Park off Murchison Road.

Her father, Bradley Lockhart, was anxious Friday night to hear any news about his missing daughter as he waited in his Fayetteville home with friends and family members. He said his daughter had lived with him for the past three or four years. He let her live with her mother, Antoinette Davis, about three weeks ago because she had found a place to live and had held a job for six months, he said.

“I just wanted her to be a mother,” he said. “She was never part of her life.”

The girl’s parents had never married.

Theresa Chance, a Fayetteville police spokeswoman, said Lockhart has been questioned and ruled out as a suspect.

Surveillance video at an undisclosed nearby hotel showed McNeil carrying Shaniya to a room around 6:11 a.m. Shaniya and the man were at the hotel for about an hour, police determined, after a hotel worker recognized the child on the video from news reports, and called the cops. But the hotel is described as being 40 miles away from Shaniya’s home. If McNeil grabbed the girl, he must have floored it at 80-90 miles per hour to get there.

From the video, the girl looked comfortable in the arms of her possible assailant. She did not struggle or make noise. Which means that she knew him already.

Reading Grace’s blog on the case, I’ve found out that Shaniya’s maternal aunt may have been Mario McNeill’s former girlfriend.

Shaniya Davis, of course, is biracial. The mother, Antoinette Davis, who has cooperated with authorities, has yet to make a public statement about her daughter. Is she overcome, distraught at the disappearance and possible death of her child? Her feelings are unknown at present. Lockhart doesn’t even know how to reach Davis, and at this point, doesn’t care about her or about the men in her life. I can’t say that I blame him.

But I cannot get out of my mind that there is something wrong here. And it may have something to do with the fact that drugs were previously found the girl’s home which may have led to social services to take Shaniya away and placing her once more with her father.

[Fayetteville police spokeswoman Theresa] Chance said police have been called to the home before. This summer, officers served a search warrant at the home and found a variety of drugs inside.

The family was not allowed inside the home Tuesday evening after it was deemed a health hazard due to extensive sewage leaks, authorities said.

Police K-9s, firefighters and sheriff’s deputies searched the area throughout the day Tuesday.

“We are searching for her and hoping to find her alive, but we just don’t know at this point,” Chance said.

McNeill is pleading not guilty. He’s got a criminal record, but it’s nothing to do with child molestation. (Two or three of them do live within proximity of Shaniya’s home.) McNeill was imprisoned for aggravated assault and drug possession. Lately, he’s been picked up for traffic violations. I’m just wondering whether Shaniya’s abduction has anything to do with the drugs that were found in the little girl’s home.

Clarence Darriel Coe, who was first suspected of making off with Shaniya, has been released. Coe, 30, is the boyfriend of Antoinette Davis.

While he never lived at the home, Coe said he is the boyfriend of Shaniya’s mother. He said he doesn’t know McNeill. Coe, unfortunately, was no saint. He too, like McNeill, had a criminal record.

Neighbors Travis Smith and George King said they often saw Shaniya playing and frequently saw her mother with Coe.

“He seemed more upset about the girl being missing than the mother did, because he kept pacing up and down the hill, looking like he was mad or whatever that the girl was gone,” said Smith, who lives two doors down from the Davis family. “To find out he got arrested, it kind of threw me off the track a little bit.”


Coe appealed for the return of the girl, who he said calls him daddy.

“Whoever knows where Shaniya is, just do the right thing,” he said.

But Antoinette Davis or her sister may know who Mario Andrette McNeill is. And Coe’s getting upset might have something to do with knowing that he would be interrogated by the cops once again.

So we have two men, one white, and one black. One is her natural father, the other seems to have been perfectly happy to play stepfather to the child of his girlfriend. They don’t know each other, but each appeared to give a damn for little Shaniya.

Where is Antoinette Davis in all this?

I’m sorry, but I’m really suspicious.

Could it be that Antoinette Davis gave the child to McNeill to hide from the father? Or that McNeill stole Shaniya because he saw an opportunity? And for what purpose?

Or that in revenge for allowing all or part of his stash to be taken by the cops, McNeill took Shaniya and did away with her?

They’ve got to find that baby.

~ by blksista on November 14, 2009.

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