Just a year after a sick child rapist claimed the life of his daughter, Shaniya Davis, Bradley Lockhart is honoring her memory and asking that the public works harder to prevent similar tragedies from happening to other children.
More than 100 relatives, friends and neighbors gathered for a memorial service Tuesday night at the Freedom International Ministries hall off Murchison Road, where they remembered Shaniya through prayer, song and poetry.
“We still have a lot of pain and hurt here as a community. I hurt every day,” said Shaniya’s father, Bradley Lockhart. “It’s up to God and the justice system to actually determine justice for Shaniya. … Forgiveness and peace is already within me; however, anger still sits.”
Shaniya’s mother, Antoinette Davis, reported the girl missing on Nov. 10, 2009. Two days later, surveillance video from a camera at a Sanford motel showed a man in front of an elevator there holding Shaniya in his arms.
On Nov. 16, 2009, Shaniya’s body was found in the woods off N.C. 87 near Carolina Trace. She had been raped and strangled.
Mario Andrette McNeill, the man in the video, was charged with kidnapping and murder, and Davis was charged with human trafficking and prostituting her child. Both are awaiting trial.
Lockhart said the case – and the case of Zahra Baker, the 10-year-old cancer survivor whose remains were recently discovered in Caldwell County – highlights the need for the community to come together to find ways to prevent such tragedies in the future.
“There’s so many things we could be doing, and just as Shaniya’s case has rang loud with failures in our system in our community, that goes the same for Zahra Baker,” Lockhart said. “We have to quit looking at just the victim dying. We need to come full circle. We need to figure out ways we can prevent the victim from dying and then if this is a tragedy that does happen, how are we going to change it?”
Something must be done to prevent violence against children. We see these stories far too often. How are we going to change it?
We think it starts by keeping unfit parents (like Shaniya’s mother, who sold her into prostitution) from having unsupervised visits.