DA: DSS withheld vital info in Shaniya Davis case

5-year-old Shaniya Davis
September 30, 2010 3:19:49 PM PDT
Cumberland Co. District Attorney Ed Grannis blasted the North Carolina Department of Social Services Thursday - saying the agency withheld vital information in the Shaniya Davis case.

Davis, 5, was taken from her Fayetteville home in November 2009. Mario Andrette McNeill has been charged with kidnapping, rape and murder. He was seen on a hotel surveillance video with Davis.

The girl's mother, Antoinette Davis, is charged with child abuse involving prostitution.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Grannis said problems started the day Davis was reported missing when DSS left detectives waiting hours for assistance.

"It was critically important that DSS cooperate in every way to save the life of this child, it does not appear that occurred," said Grannis.

Eventually, he said it took two court orders to force DSS to handover missing documents that were not included in an initial report to the DA's office.

Grannis also expressed his disappointment with the State Bureau of Investigation who he said referred to DSS's lack of cooperation as a misunderstanding - even after interviews with DSS staffers revealed high ranking supervisors told agents on the case to print emails and then delete them to prevent the media from accessing details in their investigation of the Davis Family.

"DSS staff was told to delete emails pertaining to this case, and to not email anymore information," said Grannis.

A DSS supervisor also alleged a Fayetteville police officer tried to break into DSS offices to obtain information, but later recanted, saying it was a local reporter. DSS has never sought charges against that reporter.

ABC11 asked whether this was a case of criminal negligence. Grannis said because the emails were printed out, there's no proof they were destroyed.

He said he will not seek criminal indictments, and believes because Davis's kidnapping, rape, and murder became a high profile case, DSS reacted in such a way to protect its image.

However, he says DSS dropped the ball and failed to protect the 5-year-old.

ABC11 also asked if the DA's Office had taken its grievances to the Governor. Grannis said no, insisting that a better spirit of cooperation between police, prosecutors and DSS will result from this incident.

Grannis has enlisted the help of the Cumberland Co Sheriff's Office to review the DSS handling of the case in order to have "a set of fresh eyes" on the matter.

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