Thousands gather at Shaniya Davis funeral

Shaniya Davis funeral
November 23, 2009 7:26:57 AM PST
Shaniya Davis, the 5-year-old girl who police say was taken from her home and then raped and murdered, was laid to rest Sunday.More than two thousand people attended the funeral at Manna Church in Fayetteville.

At one point, more than a hundred looked through the windows of the church door because they couldn't get in.

Bradley Lockhart, Shaniya's father, was not scheduled to speak but got up and encouraged the community to not get angry about the situation.

He turned to his daughter's rose-colored casket and said "I know you're going to be waiting for me [in heaven], I'll see you when I get there."

Shaniya's brother, Byron Coleman, got up to speak but was obviously too overcome with emotion to say anything.

Shaniya's aunt, Carey Lockhart-Davis, read a story she wrote for Shaniya.

Brad Lockhart told one of the pastors he wanted this funeral to be a "homegoing" celebration.

Davis disappeared from her home last Tuesday and her body was found in a wooded area just south of Sanford.

Police say Davis was raped and strangled. Mario McNeill, 29, is charged with the crime. He allegedly admitted kidnapping the girl.

Police announced Thursday that Cumberland County will have jurisdiction in the case. The investigation has been tough for veteran detectives.

"And it's still pretty emotional - still up and down," Captain Mark Bidgeman with the Fayetteville Police Department said. "You know, it's one of those things. It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my career."

According to court documents, McNeill killed the 5-year-old the same day she was reported missing from her mother's mobile home in Fayetteville.

Shaniya's mother, Antoinette Davis, 25, is charged with human trafficking and child abuse involving prostitution.

McNeill previously was charged with kidnapping. The newest charges against him include first-degree rape of a child and first-degree murder.

McNeill made a court appearance for the new charges on Friday. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

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