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Murder, rape charges pending in Shaniya Davis case

The body of Shaniya Davis, 5, was identified Tuesday. Murder charges will be filed soon, police say.
The body of Shaniya Davis, 5, was identified Tuesday. Murder charges will be filed soon, police say.
  • Mario Andrette McNeill will be charged with murder, rape, police say
  • Shaniya Davis' mother also has been charged in North Carolina case
  • The girl's body was found about 30 miles from where she was reported missing

(CNN) -- Murder and rape charges will be filed against a North Carolina man in the death of 5-year-old Shaniya Davis, police said Thursday.

Mario Andrette McNeill had already been charged with kidnapping the Fayetteville, North Carolina, girl. She was reported missing last week, and her body was found Monday beside a road near Sanford, about 30 miles northwest of Fayetteville.

Preliminary autopsy results indicate the child was asphyxiated, Fayetteville Police Chief Tom Bergamine told reporters Thursday, but testing is still being completed and a final report has not been issued.

McNeill will be charged with first-degree murder and rape of a child, Bergamine said. The new arrest warrants were being served Thursday night.

The girl's mother, Antoinette Nicole Davis, has been charged with human trafficking and other offenses. Police have said they believe Davis was prostituting the child.

According to police, surveillance video taken November 10 from a hotel in Sanford, North Carolina, shows Shaniya in the company of McNeill.

Authorities had said Wednesday they would need to determine where Shaniya was killed before filing additional charges. Fayetteville is in Cumberland County, while Sanford is in Lee County. Bergamine said Thursday jurisdiction in the case would remain in Cumberland County. "We started it from the beginning and wanted to finish it out," he said.

Video: NC girl's death a homicide
Video: Shaniya's brother speaks

Police still are not sure exactly where Shaniya was killed, Bergamine said. Police earlier had said they believe the child was alive when she left the hotel.

"Current charges on Ms. Davis are standing as they are right now," Bergamine said. But he told reporters the investigation was ongoing.

He and other officers spoke about the emotional toll the investigation has taken on them. Grief counseling has been under way for officers at the department, he said.

"It's been a tough case," said Fayetteville Police Capt. Charles Kimball, the toughest in his 14 years, he said. "Our mission was to find Shaniya and we did it."

"This case here has reached out and touched all of us," Bergamine said.

Shaniya's father, Bradley Lockhart, made a tearful appeal before reporters Tuesday afternoon, asking that "everybody makes it a point not to ignore, to look past a situation where a person, a child, or anybody might be in danger ... so that we don't have another tragedy like Shaniya."

The girl went to her mother's last month, he said.

CNN's Gabriel Falcon contributed to this report.