Shaniya Davis' Body Found In Lee County By Search Crews

5:54 AM, Nov 17, 2009   |    comments
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  • Antoinette Davis Courtesy:

Sanford, NC -- Authorities searched along a highway in Sanford on Monday for the body of a missing 5-year-old girl they had previously said they hoped to find alive.

Search crews at the scene confirm the girl's body was found around 1:00 Monday afternoon 100 yards off Walker Road in Lee County.

Crew members at the scene could be heard yelling "We found her, we got her."

Shaniya Davis was reported missing last Tuesday. Her mother, who reported her gone, is accused of offering her for prostitution, according to court documents and police.

About 200 searchers fanned across several miles southeast of Sanford on Monday based on "reliable information" that her body may have been dumped there, said Fayetteville Police spokeswoman Theresa Chance. Some walked along roads, ravines and fields while others drove on four-wheelers.

Shaniya's mother, Antoinette Davis, 25, has been charged with human trafficking and felony child abuse, police said. Police also filed kidnapping charges against 29-year old Mario Andrette McNeill, who was seen in surveillance footage carrying Shaniya at a Sanford hotel.

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

Davis was scheduled to make a first appearance in court Monday afternoon and police said she did not yet have an attorney.

Shaniya's father, Bradley Lockhart, said he raised his daughter for several years but last month decided to let her stay with her mother. He has pleaded for her safe return.

"I should've never let her go over there," he told The Associated Press on Saturday.

He said on CBS's "The Early Show" Monday that he remained hopeful someone would bring his daughter somewhere safe, such as a police station or hospital.

"They can drop her off at Walmart, I don't care," he said.

Associated Press

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