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Shaniya Davis Vigil: Tearful Father Bradley Lockhart Prays, "She's Right There With You"

(AP/Fay. Observer/Stephanie Bruce)
(CBS/Family Photo)
(AP/Fay. Observer/Stephanie Bruce)
(Family Photo/WRAL-TV)
(AP Photo/Jim R. Bounds)
Photo: Bradley Lockhart.

SANFORD, N.C. (CBS/AP) Shaniya Davis' father, Bradley Lockhart, arrived at a vigil for his murdered daughter Monday night with help from friends gripping his arms. Tears ran down his face as he spoke, struggling to stand.

PICTURES: Shaniya Davis Found Dead
PICTURES: Shaniya Davis' Vigil

"Lord, I come to you with open arms and it is hard. It is hard," Lockhart said as he stood among a crowd of about 500 gathered in a store parking lot. "Don't give up on me and don't give up on Shaniya. She's right there with you."

Photo: Shaniya Davis.

PICTURES: Shaniya Davis Found Dead
PICTURES: Shaniya Davis' Vigil

At a second memorial about 40 miles away in Sanford, N.C., where Shaniya's body was found, dozens of people attended a Baptist church.

"We have kids and it just hit so close to home. It's unbelievable how somebody can just do something that horrible to something so precious," said memorial organizer Crystal Godfrey.

Photo: Shaniya Davis vigil Fayateville, N.C., Monday Nov. 17, 2009.

PICTURES: Shaniya Davis Found Dead
PICTURES: Shaniya Davis' Vigil

Particularly disturbing were the accusations against Shaniya's mother, 25-year-old Antoinette Davis. Police charged Davis with human trafficking and felony child abuse, saying Shaniya was offered for sex.

Authorities also charged Mario Andrette McNeill, 29, with kidnapping after they said surveillance footage from a Sanford hotel showed him carrying Shaniya. Authorities said McNeill admitted taking the girl, though his attorney said he will plead not guilty.

Photo: Shaniya Davis.

PICTURES: Shaniya Davis Found Dead
PICTURES: Shaniya Davis' Vigil

Antoinette Davis' sister, Brenda Davis, 20, doesn't believe her sister was involved.

"I don't believe she could hurt her children," said Davis, who spoke with her sister at the jail Sunday. Davis' aunt, Yvonne Mitchell, said the mother had two jobs and would never harm the child.

Photo: Shaniya Davis vigil Fayateville, N.C., Monday Nov. 17, 2009.

PICTURES: Shaniya Davis Found Dead
PICTURES: Shaniya Davis' Vigil

Antoinette Davis reported Shaniya missing from a mobile home park Nov. 10.

Authorities first arrested Clarence Coe, but charges against him were dropped a day later when investigators tracked down McNeill after receiving a tip from a hotel employee.

Additional information led investigators to a search site near Sanford on Sunday.

Hundreds of volunteers who had helped look for Shaniya left the search area dejected, unable to bring her home to her father, 7-year-old brother and the dolls she so loved.

"I still feel kind of sick to my stomach," said Angela Jackson, 27, of Sanford, who has a 2-month-old daughter and searched for consecutive days.

"We were hoping that someone could carry her home," said Syd Severe, 42, who came from Raleigh to help with the search. "It's just sick."

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

He had pleaded for her safe return.

Lockhart told the Associated Press on Saturday that he and Davis never argued about him raising Shaniya, and Cumberland County courts had no record of a custody dispute.

He described his relationship with Davis as a "one-night stand" and said he did not know McNeill.

Davis struggled financially over the years, but she recently got a job and her own place, so Lockhart said he decided to give her a chance with their daughter.

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

MEDIA
PICTURES: Shaniya Davis Found Dead
PICTURES: Shaniya Davis' Vigil

MORE ON CRIMESIDER
November 18, 2009 - Shaniya Davis' Little Body Found Near Deer Carcasses in Trash
November 18, 2009 - Police: No New Charges for Shaniya Davis' Death ...For Now
November 18, 2009 - Shaniya Davis' Aunt Says Mother, Antoinette Davis, was "Neglectful" Before Child's Murder
November 17, 2009 - Shaniya Davis Vigil: Tearful Father Bradley Lockhart Prays, "She's Right There With You"
November 17, 2009 - Antoinette Davis, Mom Accused of Selling Shaniya Davis as Sex Slave, is Pregnant Again
November 17, 2009 - Shaniya Davis, Fallen "Angel" Remembered In Pictures
November 16, 2009 - Mario Andrette McNeill: Things May Get Much Worse for Man Charged With Kidnapping Shaniya Davis
November 16, 2009 - Shaniya Davis Found Dead; Mother Turned Little Girl Into Sex Slave, Say Police
November 16, 2009 - Bradley Lockhart, Shaniya Davis' Father, Pled For Girl's Return in Vain
November 16, 2009 - Shaniya Davis Found Dead; Mother Turned Little Girl Into Sex Slave, Say Police
November 16, 2009 - Shaniya Davis Not Found: Cops Fear Missing Child is Dead, Search Focuses on Body
November 16, 2009 - Shaniya Davis: Missing 5-Year-Old Seen in Horrifying Hotel Video
November 16, 2009 - Shaniya Davis Missing: Mother Arrested for Human Trafficking, Putting Daughter in "Sexual Servitude"
November 11, 2009 - 5-Year-Old Shaniya Davis Missing; Foul Play Suspected

  • Edecio Martinez

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