FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Authorities acted on a tip Sunday and searched a wide area in south-central North Carolina trying to find a 5-year-old girl reported missing by her mother, who has been charged with human trafficking and child abuse involving prostitution.
Capt. Charles Kimble of the Fayetteville Police Department said several agencies spent the day looking for signs of Shaniya Davis between Spring Lake and Sanford, which are about 25 miles apart. Kimble would not elaborate on what information officers had received. They suspended the search at dark. The area included woods and some homes, police said.
"We're following up on a tip. It seems to be good, so we're out there looking," Kimble said.
The N.C. Highway Patrol sent a helicopter to aid in the search, Lt. Everett Clendenin said. Shaniya hasn't been seen since Tuesday, when a surveillance camera recorded the man charged in her kidnapping carrying the girl into a hotel room.
Earlier Sunday, authorities arrested Antoinette Nicole Davis, Shaniya's mother. The charges against Davis are related to her daughter's disappearance, said Theresa Chance, a spokeswoman for Fayetteville police.
According to arrest documents cited by The Fayetteville Observer, Davis "knowingly provide(d) Shaniya Davis with the intent that she be held in sexual servitude" and she "permit(ted) an act of prostitution."
Shaniya had only been living with her mother since last month. Davis reported the girl missing Tuesday morning from a mobile home community in Fayetteville, and authorities began searching nearby wooded areas.
Camera footage showed Mario Andrette McNeill carrying Shaniya into a hotel room, and he was arrested and charged with kidnapping on Friday. A kidnapping charge against a man described as Davis' boyfriend was dropped.
Authorities have said McNeill admitted to taking the girl, though his attorney says he will plead not guilty to the charge. They have not said if McNeill and Davis knew each other.
Police said a hotel worked spotted a child matching Shaniya's description at the hotel in Sanford, about 40 miles from Fayetteville. Relatives helped confirm that the child on the recording was Shaniya.
Fayetteville police officer Brian Gainey said Davis did not have an attorney and was scheduled to appear in court Monday.
Shaniya's father, Bradley Lockhart, told The Associated Press that he raised his daughter for several years but last month decided to let her stay with her mother.
"I should've never let her go over there," he said Saturday.
Lockhart said he did not know McNeill.