Crews searching for a missing 5-year-old have found a body that is believed to be of Shaniya Davis. Fayetteville Police are still waiting for SBI officials to exhume the body and provide a positive identification.
About 200 people, consisting of law enforcement and volunteers, searched Monday near the Lee/Harnett County line after receiving a tip the child's body may have been dumped in the area. Searchers combed the Walker Road corridor off of Highway 87.
Full Coverage: Search For Shaniya Davis
They worked to comb every inch of land around this stretch of Highway 87 from the air, with K-9's and ATVs.
About four hours into their day, searchers discovered the body about 100 feet off Walker Road.
"You have a lot of people in shock right now. You always hold out hope that you're going to be able to reunite, especially a child with their family," said Theresa Chance, spokeswoman for the Fayetteville PD.
After Shaniya's body was found, a solemn group of searchers met quietly at a nearby fire station to ensure that all volunteers were accounted for.
"She's a beautiful girl and my heart just goes out and I'm really very angry and outrages because of this," said volunteer Reginald Monroe.
Davis had been missing since last Tuesday. Her mother Antoinette Davis, who reported her gone, is charged with human trafficking and felony child abuse-prostitution.
Davis was calm and quiet during a five-minute court appearance in Fayetteville on Monday afternoon. She provided one-word answers to the judge's questions and held her hands in front of her, without handcuffs. She requested a court-appointed attorney and did not enter a plea.
But Antoinette Davis' family is standing by her.
"I just don't believe she has anything to do with it," said Yvonne Mitchell, Antoinette Davis' aunt. "Maybe she met somebody crazy or something and I don't know. But I don't think she had anything to do with it...It's not making any sense. Since this has happened, nothing has made sense. Nothing."
Barbara Davenport, property manager at Sleepy Hollow Mobile Home Park, where Shaniya was first reported missing says she mourns for Shaniya.
"I don't know what kind of hell that little girl went through the last few weeks she was on this earth. But now, right now I know that she is smiling and laughing and happy because Jesus is holding her safe," said Davenport.
Mario Andrette McNeill, 29, has been charged with kidnapping after admitting that he took the child.
Shaniya's father, Bradley Lockhart, said he raised his daughter for several years but last month decided to let her stay with her mother. He had pleaded for her safe return.
"I should've never let her go over there," he told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Before Shaniya's body was found, he said on CBS's "The Early Show" Monday that he remained hopeful someone would bring his daughter somewhere safe, such as a police station or hospital.
"They can drop her off at Walmart, I don't care," he said.
Shaniya Davis' neighbors are planning to hold a memorial later this week.
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