FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – A North Carolina man has admitted to kidnapping a 5-year-old girl, authorities said Friday, but investigators still have not found the child more than three days after she disappeared from a mobile home park.
Mario Andrette McNeill, 29, admitted to taking Shaniya Davis, said Fayetteville Police Department spokeswoman Theresa Chance. He was charged with kidnapping while authorities dropped charges against another man, Clarence Coe, who was initially arrested in the case.
"We're hoping we find her alive," Chance said at a news conference. "We found Mr. McNeill, and Miss Davis was not with him."
Surveillance footage had showed McNeill carrying Shaniya into a hotel room on Tuesday morning, when she was reported missing from a mobile home park. A hotel worker called police to report seeing a child matching Shaniya's description, but by the time police got there, McNeill had left.
McNeill faces a first court appearance Friday afternoon.
Investigators had used police dogs but could not pick up the child's scent during a search of the neighborhood. They found a blanket that may have belonged to Shaniya in a garbage can outside a neighbor's home.
Shaniya's father, Bradley Lockhart, made a tearful appeal Thursday for his daughter's safe return.
"Shaniya, if you're listening to daddy, I miss you so much, honey," he said. "I'm waiting for you. I'm not going to give up. You don't give up either, honey."