A 29-year-old man, Mario Andrette McNeill, was arrested Wednesday in connection to the disappearance of 5-year-old Shaniya Davis. Missing since Tuesday, police had found little Shaniya Davis’ image on a Sanford, North Carolina hotel surveillance camera, being carried by a man. Mario Andrette McNeill was arrested Thursday and admitted to Fayetteville Police that he had kidnapped Shaniya Davis.
But Shaniya Davis is still missing.
According to the Fayetteville Observer, Shaniya Davis went missing on Tuesday morning from her Fayetteville, North Carolina home sometime after 5:30 a.m. and before 6:53 a.m. The girl was last seen by her mother, who called the police at 6:53 a.m. to report her daughter missing. She was wearing a blue sleep shirt and pink panties.
Her father was out of town. Police ruled him out as a suspect, while the mother and a 7-year-old old boy spent most of Tuesday talking with police.
A child’s blanket was found in a neighbor’s trash receptacle Wednesday and an Amber Alert was issued. Fayetteville Police suspected foul play in the disappearance of the child and intensified their search.
Mario Andrette McNeill was seen on video carrying Shaniya Davis into the Sanford hotel Tuesday morning. A hotel worker called police when he recognized the girl as matching the description of missing Shaniya Davis, but by the time the police arrived, McNeill had left. Police have alleged that Mario McNeill has admitted to kidnapping the child. However, there is still no indication as to her whereabouts.
Fayetteville Police Department spokeswoman Theresa Chance said at a press conference, “We’re hoping we find her alive. We found Mr. McNeill, and Miss Davis was not with him.”
Police indicate that Mario Andrette McNeill has a past criminal record but nothing with regard to children. His previous arrests have been for drug possession, eluding arrest, and felony assault. McNeill spent four years in prison when convicted of the felony assault charge.
Another suspect, previously arrested after being identified as the person seen driving away with the 5-year-old, was released Friday after Mario McNeill’s arrest. Clarence Coe told the judge at Thursday’s arraignment that he was “not guilty” and did not understand why he was in court. He had entered no plea.
According to the Associated Press, Mario McNeill’s lawyer said Friday that his client would not plead guilty to the kidnapping of Shaniya Davis, although police maintain that his client admitted to taking the 5-year-old from the mobile home where she lived. There was no comment on Shaniya Davis or her whereabouts.
A disturbing aspect of the investigation is that Fayetteville Police have disclosed that they saw Mario Andrette McNeill enter the hotel with Shaniya Davis, but they have said nothing about seeing her leaving. The image is reminiscent of the recent case of Jasmine Fiore, the swimsuit model who was seen on surveillance footage walking into a San Diego hotel but never leaving. Jasmine Fiore was found hours later in a hotel dumpster inside a suitcase matching the one accompanying her husband, Ryan Jenkins, when he left the hotel. But there are many reasons why authorities may not have divulged that information, the least being that neither Mario McNeill nor the 5-year-old may have been on surveillance footage due to exiting the hotel where there were no cameras or where there might be an inoperable one.
Shaniya Davis is three feet tall. She weighs approximately 40 pounds. If anyone knows the whereabouts of Shaniya Nicole Davis or has any additional information about the missing 5-year-old, contact the Fayetteville Police Department at (910) 433-1856 or Crime Stoppers at (910) 483-8477.