Event honors Shaniya Davis through prevention

FAYETTEVILLE Shaniya Davis' body was found in a ditch in Lee County in November. The 5-year-old was last seen alive days earlier in video surveillance at a Sanford hotel. She was being carried by 29-year-old Mario McNeill.

McNeill is facing rape and murder charges and Davis' mother, Antoinette, is charged with human trafficking and felony child abuse-prostitution.

Davis' father, who now lives in Alabama, says he thinks about his little girl every day and wants to honor her life with an event called "Shaniya Speaks Day, Keeping the Promise".

"It'll take you back just to think of how many kids are being exposed to such a horrific crime and predators," Lockhart said. "Nobody's exempt. Anybody can be sitting in this chair right now."

Lockhart did not want to address questions about Davis' mother, other than to say he forgives her.

"I would tell her that I do forgive her though, and we'll just leave it at that," he said.

Instead, Lockhart's focus is on encouraging people to join him Saturday afternoon.

"The next child could be yours, so come educate yourself," Lockhart said.

He says the hope is that no other parent has to lose a child.

"It's very difficult to go through your daily life knowing that there's a big part of your life, a big part of your day's missing," Lockhart said. "She still holds that big space in my heart and we love her and she's still looking down on us right now."

Shaniya Davis would have turned 6-years-old on Monday.

Her father says he hopes to have an event every year, either on her birthday, or on the Saturday before it.

Saturday's event will take place at the John D. Fuller Recreational Complex on Old Bunce Road in Fayetteville from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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