Mother of missing 5-year-old NC girl charged

November 14, 2009 8:26:10 PM PST
The mother of a 5-year-old girl who disappeared in North Carolina was charged Saturday with human trafficking and other offenses, though authorities said they still did not know the girl's whereabouts.

Antoinette Nicole Davis, the mother of Shaniya (shuh-'NY-uh) Davis, faces a child abuse charge involving prostitution as well as filing a false police report, according to a news release from the Fayetteville Police Department. The release did not say whether the charges were related to her daughter's disappearance. Telephone messages and an e-mail left for police were not immediately returned.

Shaniya's mother reported the girl missing Tuesday morning from a mobile home community in Fayetteville, and authorities began searching nearby wooded areas. The following day a man described as Davis' boyfriend was arrested in the kidnapping but later released.

Police then said a worker spotted a child matching Shaniya's description at a Sanford hotel about 40 miles from Fayetteville on Tuesday. Authorities reviewed surveillance video and, after speaking with family members, confirmed the child's identity.

Surveillance footage showed Mario Andrette McNeill carrying Shaniya into a hotel room, and he was arrested and charged with kidnapping Friday.

Authorities have said McNeill admitted to taking the girl, though his attorney says he will plead not guilty to the charge. They have not said if McNeill and Davis knew each other.

An official at the Cumberland County Detention Center said Davis was still being booked and it was unclear whether she had an attorney. Her first court appearance would likely be Monday.

Shaniya's father, Bradley Lockhart, told The Associated Press he raised his daughter for several years but last month decided to let her stay with her mother. He said Davis struggled financially over the years, but she recently obtained a job and her own place, so Lockhart decided to give her a chance to raise their daughter.

"I should've never let her go over there," he said Saturday night.

Lockhart said police have not told him whether they are any closer to finding his daughter.

"I just want her to come back safe my friend," he said. "I love her very much and I hope she is OK."

He described his relationship with Davis as a "one-night stand" and said he and Davis never argued about him raising Shaniya.

"Shaniya is a precious young lady and she is special," Lockhart said.

Lockhart said he did not know McNeill.


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