Commentary: Another missing child's story ends in heartbreak

Shaniya Davis was a cute, innocent child born into troubled circumstances not of her making. Now, in the awful end to a story that had Eastern North Carolina in its grip for days, with people who had never known or even heard of this 5-year-old girl praying for her, hoping against hope that she was alive and safe, the worst has come to pass. Her body was found Monday along the border of Lee and Harnett counties.

The full story is yet to be known. Her mother, Antoinette Davis, has been charged with human trafficking, felony child abuse and making a false police report. A man named Mario McNeill was charged with kidnapping Shaniya after he was caught on a surveillance video at a motel in Sanford on the morning she was reported missing.

The possible abuse to which the child was subjected is something police aren't saying much about. Her father, Bradley Lockhart, who appears to have had little if any relationship with the child's mother, made a tearful plea last week for Shaniya's safe return. It was clear that he loved her.

Tragedies such as this one bring out the care and concern in people not because, fortunately, many people can identify with the situation, but because this child's life was compelling in its difficulty. And yet, like so many children from troubled backgrounds, Shaniya was trying to be a normal kid - you can see it in her smile.

To read the complete editorial, visit The (Raleigh) News & Observer.