An autopsy is currently underway for the body of 5-year-old Shaniya Nicole Davis in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, at the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office.
The Associated Press reports that her cause of death is currently unknown, authorities are hoping the exam will shed some light on how Shaniya died.
The child’s body was found Monday night in the woods of rural North Carolina along Highway 87 South after an intense search done by police and volunteers hoping to find Shaniya alive. Am Amber alert was issued the previous Tuesday when She was reported missing from her home in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Bradley Lockhart, Shaniya’s father, had also remained hopeful and begged for her to be returned home safely. He was grief-stricken upon hearing the devastating news.
At a vigil held by hundreds of Fayetteville residents, mourners built a small memorial of flowers, candles and toys. Bradley told WTVD-TV, “I ask you to give me and everyone who loved poor Shaniya–my little baby, my angel–the strength to continue on.”
Shaniya’s mother, Antoinette Davis, was taken into custody Saturday after reports that she had sold the child as a sex slave surfaced. She was charged with human trafficking, felony child abuse and prostitution, appeared in court Monday.
Family members there to support Antoinette showed their shock and disapproval after hearing the allegations brought against her.
“Every time I seen her, the kids were happy. She seemed happy. If there was anything wrong, it was being hid very good because I didn’t notice it,” said Antoinette’s aunt, Yvonne Mitchell.
Two other men, Mario Andrette McNeil and Clarence Coe, were also arrested in connection with Shaniya’s disappearance and eventual death. Clarence was released, but Mario is being charged with kidnapping because cops have surveillance video of him carrying Shaniya at a hotel.
— Sophia Adem