IN REMEMBRANCE: 11-22-2009


by Gordon Anderson

November 17, 2009 – FAYETTEVILLE — Police in Fayetteville have confirmed that the body searchers found in rural Lee County Monday afternoon is that of 5-year-old Shaniya Davis.

Although police called off the search for the missing Davis after Monday’s discovery, they were slow to confirm that the body was hers.

Several media outlets reported Monday night that police confirmed the body belonged to Davis, although police officials adamantly denied until around 1:50 p.m. today that identification had been made.

A brief press release from the Fayetteville Police Department reads “at this time the Medical Examiner’s office has confirmed the identity of the body found to be that of 5-year old Shaniya Davis. Official cause of death is still undetermined at this hour.”

The press release also indicated that a press conference set for 4:30 p.m. today had been rescheduled until 10 a.m. tomorrow.

The conference has been rescheduled “due to new information received in the investigation,” the press release reads.

Rescue worker describes discovery

A dog trainer who was present when the body now identified as 5-year-old Shaniya Davis was found along a wooded road in North Carolina says searchers initially overlooked the area because they saw only deer carcasses in trash bags.

But Jeff Riccio of Tarheel Cainine Training Inc. said Tuesday his team returned to the area after getting information that the body of Shaniya Davis might be near deer carcasses. The searchers then found the body Monday afternoon underneath kudzu along a rural highway southeast of Sanford.

The child’s mother has been charged with human trafficking and felony child abuse, accused of selling her daughter into sex slavery. Police also charged Mario McNeill with kidnapping after he was captured on a hotel’s surveillance video with Shaniya.

The crime

The case came to Lee County after security footage from the Comfort Suites in Sanford showed Mario McNeill of Fayetteville with Shaniya Davis around 6 a.m. on Nov. 10.

The body was found in the woods off Walker Road near N.C. 87 in the southern portion of the county.

“We’ll put information together as far as charging someone (with murder) if the body is identified as Shaniya,” said Theresa Chance with the Fayetteville Police Department.

The search for Shaniya, which included more than 250 law enforcement officers, fire fighters and search and rescure workers from multiple agencies in the area, stopped after the body’s discovery.

Chance said authorities chose the search area based on “solid information” obtained during the course of the investigation. She confirmed that police “had information that a body may have been dumped” in the area. During their search, crews came upon many deer carcasses and even wild dogs. Recent rains also hindered the search.

Chance repeatedly used the word “exhume” in reference to the process of identifying the body. When pressed by reporters, she wouldn’t say whether the body appeared to have been buried.

“Just keep in mind that we’ve just had two days of heavy rain,” she said and declined to comment on a cause of death or the condition of the body.

Authorities said McNeill admitted taking the girl, though his attorney said he will plead not guilty. Although the security footage from the Comfort Suites on Bragg Street in Sanford showed McNeill with the little girl, Chance said the hotel offered no further clues about the case.

“The tapes have been turned over since then,” she said. “That footage was taken Tuesday, and we weren’t made aware of it until Wednesday.”

Davis reported Shaniya missing on Nov. 10. Authorities first arrested a man named Clarence Coe — reportedly Antoinette Davis’ boyfriend — but charges against him were dropped a day later when investigators tracked down McNeill after receiving a tip from a hotel employee.


More than 250 searchers combed more than a square mile of soggy, wooded terrain for nearly two days before the discovery Monday.

After the body was found, a solemn group of searchers met quietly at a nearby fire station to ensure that all volunteers were accounted for.

“We were hoping that someone could carry her home,” said Syd Severe, 42, who came from Raleigh to help with the search. “It’s just sick.”

A cluster of emergency vehicles and law enforcement personnel gathered where the body was found. Authorities blocked access to the road, a rural area popular with hunters that is less than a mile from a large lakeside community.

“I still feel kind of sick to my stomach,” said Angela Jackson, 27, from Sanford, who has a two-month-old daughter but searched for consecutive days.

Particularly disturbing were the accusations lodged against Shaniya’s mother. Police charged Davis with human trafficking and felony child abuse, saying Shaniya was offered for prostitution.

“We’ve got a lot of people out at the scene right now that are torn up,” Chance said Monday. “Detectives have been running off adrenaline to find this little girl and to bring her home alive. You have a lot of people in shock right now.”

Trafficking charges

Antoinette Davis, the mother of Shaniya Davis, was calm and quiet during a five-minute court appearance in Fayetteville on Monday.

Antoinette Davis 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.

The investigation into the disappearance of Shaniya Davis yielded the arrest of the mother and two other men, though one man was later released.

Police charged Antoinette Davis with human trafficking and felony child abuse, saying Shaniya was offered for prostitution.

Her sister, Brenda Davis, 20, said outside of the courthouse that she does not believe the charges.

“I don’t believe she could hurt her children,” said Brenda Davis, who was able to speak to her sister at the jail Sunday.

Authorities also charged Mario Andrette McNeill, 29, with kidnapping after they said surveillance footage from the Comfort Suites hotel in Sanford showed him carrying Shaniya there. Authorities said McNeill admitted taking the girl, though his attorney said he will plead not guilty.

Davis reported Shaniya missing Tuesday. Authorities first arrested a man named Clarence Coe, but charges against him were dropped a day later when investigators tracked down McNeill after receiving a tip from a hotel employee.

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.

Lockhart told The Associated Press on Saturday that he and Davis never argued about him raising Shaniya, and Cumberland County courts had no record of a custody dispute. He described his relationship with Davis as a “one-night stand” and said he did not know McNeill.

Davis struggled financially over the years, but she recently obtained a job and her own place, so Lockhart said he decided to give her a chance to raise their daughter.

“I should’ve never let her go over there,” he said Saturday night.

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.

A friend at Lockhart’s home Monday afternoon said Lockhart did not want to speak with reporters.

Gordon Anderson, Jonathan Owens, Caitlin Mullen and The Associated Press contributed to this report

Shaniya Davis

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A little, innocent child, who never had a chance to live. A little growing child who will never be able to run, play, laugh, cry, or feel the Sun on her face again. A little child who will never know what it means to fail, and to succeed.

A little innocent beautiful child who now rests in the arms of Christ, the Saviour who loves all children, who said:  “Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for to such belongth the Kingdom of God”.

Rest in peace little one.

Rest in peace.



Published: November 18, 2009

PENN HILLS, Pa. (AP) — Wallace Williams, known as Bucky, a retired steelworker who played for both of the Pittsburgh-area’s Negro leagues baseball teams, died Monday at his home in this suburb of Pittsburgh. He was 102.

Curt Chandler/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Bucky Williams in 2006

Williams was born on Dec. 15, 1906, in Baltimore, and his family moved to Pittsburgh when he was a baby.

He began playing for the Pittsburgh Crawfords in 1928, played briefly with their rival Homestead Grays in 1936, then returned to the Crawfords until they folded in 1939.

After leaving the Negro leagues, Williams continued to play for sandlot and other adult teams, including the Pittsburgh Monarchs and a team sponsored by the Edgar Thompson Steel Works, where he worked as a ladle liner before retiring in 1971.

His wife, the former Marjorie Carey, died in 1977. Survivors include his son, David, and a sister, Veronica Ford.




Published: November 17, 2009

Edward Woodward, a British actor with a long résumé in television and theater who was best known in the United States as the star of “The Equalizer,” a dramatic series about an ex-spy turned righteous vigilante in New York City, died on Monday in Truro, Cornwall, England. He was 79 and lived in London and Cornwall.

November 17, 2009    

Edward Woodward in ‘The Equalizer” in the mid-1980s.

The cause was pneumonia, said Janet Glass, Mr. Woodward’s agent for more than 30 years. Mr. Woodward had heart problems and other ailments, she said.

Mr. Woodward’s career began in 1946, when he first appeared onstage, and lasted for more than half a century. He was a versatile actor with an accomplished tenor singing voice who played a number of Shakespearean roles on the English stage; starred in the Broadway musical “High Spirits,” which was based on the Nöel Coward play “Blithe Spirit” and directed by Coward himself; recorded several albums as a singer and reciter of poetry; and played leading roles in films as various as the occult thriller “The Wicker Man” (1973) and the historical courtroom drama from Australia “Breaker Morant” (1980).

But his enduring fame, both in England and in the United States, was as a television actor who specialized in disgruntled secret agents. From 1967 to 1972, he played the title role in “Callan,” a noir British series (though its last seasons were filmed in color) about David Callan, a counterintelligence agent often called on for his skills as an assassin.

Callan, urbane and capable of charm but embittered and prone to anger, was a kind of anti-James Bond, presenting the spy’s life as glamourless and nearly mundane. Callan became a popular cult figure in England, and when the show was canceled graffiti peppered the walls in the working-class East End of London declaring, “Callan Lives!” and, “Bring Back Callan.”

From 1985 to 1989, Mr. Woodward played Robert McCall, the title character in “The Equalizer,” a former American agent for a never-named intelligence agency who has set up shop in New York to right the injustices done to people whom the police cannot or will not help. McCall was a veritable reprise of Callan, but now in middle age, a man who has seen how the powerless are exploited by the powerful and the innocent by the conniving and who can’t take it any more without doing something about it.

Well-dressed, unthreatening in appearance behind his professorial glasses, McCall was nonetheless a man with a volatile temper and a willingness to pull the trigger. He found his clients with classified ads: “Got a problem? Odds against you? Call the Equalizer.”

Edward Albert Arthur Woodward was born to working class parents in Croydon, Surrey, south of London, on June 1, 1930. As a teenager he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. After his first stage appearance, in 1946, he had his London debut in 1954. In 1962, he appeared in “Rattle of a Simple Man,” a comedy by Charles Dyer in which he played an effeminate, sexually inhibited man who spends an evening with a prostitute. The show was a hit; when it moved to Broadway the following year, it wasn’t so well-received, but Mr. Woodward was.

“Mr. Woodward’s Percy is all but perfect,” Howard Taubman, the reviewer for The New York Times, wrote, adding: “He seems so truly the troubled, fearful middle-aged mother’s boy from Manchester that one forgets he is an actor. He speaks Mr. Dyer’s lines as if he had just invented them, and even the way he moves and wears his dull, respectable clothes are expressions of character.”

Coward evidently agreed, because after seeing Mr. Woodward in the role, he cast him as Charles Condomine, the debonair man frazzled by a visit from the ghost of his first wife (Tammy Grimes), in “High Spirits,” a musical that ran for almost a year and also starred Beatrice Lillie.

Mr. Woodward’s first marriage, to the actress Venetia Barrett, ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife, Michele Dotrice, a daughter of the actor Roy Dotrice; three children with Ms. Barrett, Tim, Peter and Sarah; a daughter, Emily, with Ms. Dotrice; and several grandchildren. All his children are actors.




Published: November 21, 2009

Paul Wendkos, a movie and television director best known for the frothy surfer film “Gidget,” but whose other productions ranged from thrillers to historical dramas, died Nov. 12 at his home in Malibu, Calif. He was 84.

November 22, 2009    

C. Christie Craig, via Associated Press

Paul Wendkos in 1957.

The cause was complications of a stroke, said his wife, Lin Bolen Wendkos.

Mr. Wendkos was assigned to direct “Gidget” in 1958, a year after Harry Cohn, the president of Columbia Pictures, signed him to a contract. The film starred Sandra Dee, then 17, as the tomboyish Francie Lawrence, who doesn’t understand why her girlfriends are so boy-crazy. Francie’s only interest in the guys at the beach is having them teach her how to surf. But love eventually snares her, and she’s soon drinking beer with the Big Kahuna (Cliff Robertson) just to make Moondoggie (James Darren) jealous.

Released in 1959, the movie and its sequel, “Gidget Goes Hawaiian,” also directed by Mr. Wendkos, were hits and helped popularize a surfing culture that began spreading to the mainland.

Mr. Wendkos’s first feature film, “The Burglar,” starring Jayne Mansfield, then a little-known actress, had brought him to Mr. Cohn’s attention. Mr. Wendkos had raised the money for the movie, a low-budget thriller whose noirish style foreshadowed many of his later films. Ms. Mansfield played the girlfriend of the leader of a gang that steals a precious necklace and who then goes on the lam.

Among his more than 100 productions, Mr. Wendkos directed television movies about an amphetamine addict and an alcoholic who struggle for love (“A Cry for Love,” 1980); a man tortured by multiple personalities (“The Five of Me,” 1981); and a man who travels the country and marries 82 women (“Scorned and Swindled,” 1984).

Reviewing “Scorned and Swindled” in The New York Times, John J. O’Connor wrote, “Paul Wendkos directs with an unerring ability to make the decidedly bizarre seem almost comfortably commonplace.”

The struggle against slavery and discrimination was another theme for Mr. Wendkos. In 1978, he directed the mini-series “A Woman Called Moses,” starring Cicely Tyson as the abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who helped organize the Underground Railroad. In 1989, he directed “Cross of Fire,” about the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana in the 1920s.

Besides the “Gidget” movies, Mr. Wendkos’s big-screen films include “Guns of the Magnificent Seven” (1969), a sequel to the 1960 western “The Magnificent Seven,” and “The Mephisto Waltz” (1971), about a classical pianist whose soul is assumed by another pianist.

Abraham Paul Wendkos was born in Philadelphia on Sept. 20, 1925, to Simon and Judith Wendkos. After serving in the Navy in World War II, he graduated from Columbia University and studied film at the New School for Social Research (now the New School).

Mr. Wendkos’s first wife, the former Ruth Burnat, died in 1978. Besides his wife, Lin Bolen Wendkos, he is survived by his son, Jordan, of Calabasas, Calif.; and a granddaughter.

One of the productions her husband was most proud of, Ms. Bolen Wendkos said, was “Right to Die,” a 1987 television movie with Raquel Welch as a strong-willed woman who is stricken with Lou Gehrig’s disease and who must decide whether to go off life support.

“Here is a film that deals candidly and indeed toughly with a profoundly serious issue,” Mr. O’Connor wrote in his review, adding, “There is little pussyfooting and no phony uplift.”




Stefan Simonsen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Robert Enke was a leading candidate for the German World Cup team but feared his depression would break up his family.

Published: November 11, 2009
The official Web site of the Hannover 96 soccer club was blacked out Wednesday except for a simple statement: “Wir trauern um Robert Enke.” We mourn for Robert Enke.
November 12, 2009    

Gero Breloer/Associated Press

Hundreds of mourners in Germany attended a memorial for goalkeeper Robert Enke.

He was the club’s goalkeeper, its captain, its most likely player to make Germany’s World Cup team next year. On Tuesday evening, Enke was hit and killed by a train at a level crossing near his home.

Almost at once, the police talked of suicide, and his widow, Teresa, who had to identify the body at the scene, said at a news conference Wednesday that Enke suffered from a depression he feared could result in their family being broken up.

Germany was in shock. The mood from Chancellor Angela Merkel down was of silent waiting. Enke, 32, had an adopted 8-month-old daughter, Leila, and lived on a farm where he and his wife, both animal rights campaigners, kept many pets.

The German national squad, in Bonn preparing for a friendly match against Chile on Saturday, canceled training Wednesday. The match was also canceled.

Enke could have been with the team but for a recent intestinal infection, and Oliver Bierhoff, the national squad manager, summed it up, “We are too shocked to find words.”

Enke’s car, a Mercedes, was found near the crossing, unlocked and with his wallet on the passenger seat. The two train drivers saw a man on the track and applied the brakes, but at 160 kilometers an hour, or 100 miles an hour, it was too late to prevent the death.

The police said there was a suicide note, and German newspapers ran with two lines of commentary. One was that Enke, a quiet and reserved individual, was a troubled man ever since his biological daughter, Lara, died at the age of 2 in September 2006. She had a rare heart malformation. The other was the loneliness, the uncertainty, of a goalie’s situation.

On Wednesday afternoon, Teresa Enke said at a news conference attended by her husband’s psychologist that he was first treated in 2003. “When he was acutely depressive, he lacked motivation and hope,” she said. “I tried to be there for him. I said football is not everything, there are many beautiful things in life, it is not hopeless.”

The psychologist, Dr. Valentin Markser, said Enke had a fear of failure.

Enke had chosen as a boy to play in the most exposed position, the last line of defense, and the one first blamed when things go wrong. Born in Jena, in East Germany, he joined SV Jena Pharm in 1985, when he was 8.

He moved to Carl Zeiss Jena the next year and had been moving on ever since.

There were three years at Borussia Mönchengladbach, three years in Portugal with Benfica, a squad that went through three coaching changes while he was there and had financial difficulties that resulted in players sometimes being paid late.

Enke’s counseling began when he moved to Barcelona. He was the eternal understudy there, the rising German keeper given just three opportunities with the first team. Barcelona thought highly of him, but lent him to Fenerbache of Istanbul, then to Tenerife. His Turkish misadventure lasted just one match, a loss after which Fenerbache fans bombarded him with firecrackers and missiles in their anger at losing.

Finally, he found relative security at Hannover, where he stayed for five years despite offers to move to more glamorous clubs. He was the team captain, chosen in part by his fellow players. When Jens Lehmann retired from Germany’s national team after Euro 2008, Enke was expected to be entrusted with the jersey.

It was not certain. In goalkeeping, more than any other position, you are only as good as your last mistake. Trust is between the coach and the last man standing, and that presupposes that the goalie has the style, the personality and the authority that defenders in front of him also like and trust.

Enke was being pressed by René Adler, the 24-year-old Leipzig-born goalkeeper. Enke had more experience, Adler has youth, greater height and reach, and the advantage of playing for Bayer Leverkusen, which currently leads Germany’s Bundesliga.

Joachim Löw, the coach, was thought to favor Enke for the 2010 World Cup. But of course no trainer would make such a promise to one goalie, because it would be too great a disincentive to the others.

It seems the professional uncertainty fed Enke’s anxiety. Illness and injury could not have helped. A year ago, shortly after Lehmann left the national squad, Enke lost two months to a broken bone in his hand.

In his final game for the German national team in August, he had a goalkeeper’s dream score, shutting out Azerbaijan. Then he contracted an intestinal virus that cost him another nine weeks. He had just returned to Hannover’s lineup.

The loneliness of a player sidelined for months, the exclusion from the team training and comradeship, are all part of the professional experience.

As fans laid wreaths and lighted candles at the gates of the stadium, Teresa Enke faced the news media there. She said: “He was scared of losing Leila if his depression came out. Now it is coming out anyway. We thought we could do everything with love, but you can’t always do it.”

And so along with his widow, a club and the national team also mourn for a man who took his own life near the peak of his sporting career




Published: November 21, 2009
Elisabeth Soderstrom, the Swedish soprano acclaimed for the plangent richness and intelligence of her singing and for her wide-ranging repertory, including influential portrayals of leading roles in the operas of Janacek, died on Friday in Stockholm, her native city.
November 22, 2009    
Scanpix, via European Pressphoto Agency

Elisabeth Soderstrom as Madame Butterfly in 1953.

Her death came after several years of complications from a stroke, said the Swedish mezzo-soprano Kerstin Meyer, her friend and colleague, speaking by phone from Stockholm. Ms. Soderstrom was 82.

While Ms. Soderstrom was admired by opera lovers around the world, notably in Sweden and England, where she performed most often, within the field she was revered. With her radiant, creamy voice, thorough musicianship and keen dramatic instincts, she was a model for singers.

In roles like the Countess in Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro,” the Marschallin in Strauss’s “Der Rosenkavalier,” Tatyana in Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” and more, she combined insightful acting with nuanced singing and a lovely stage presence to create alluring and memorable performances. An element of Scandinavian reserve in her dramatic and vocal artistry enhanced her work, lending an elusive quality to her portrayals.

Reviewing a song recital that Ms. Soderstrom gave at the Frick Collection in New York in 1975, the New Yorker critic Andrew Porter perceptively summed up her artistry. Her “quick musical intelligence, her vivid and engaging temperament, and a protean voice not exceptionally powerful but well able to compass soubrette mirth and tragic passion have brought her triumphs in a wide variety of roles,” Mr. Porter wrote.

Anna Elisabeth Soderstrom, born in Stockholm on May 7, 1927, was the daughter of a Swedish naval captain and a Russian mother. Trained at the Royal Academy of Music and Opera School in Stockholm, she made her debut as Mozart’s Bastienne when she was just 20 at the Drottningholm Court Theater, on the outskirts of the city, a company she would direct in the mid-1990s.

Shortly after her debut, she joined the Swedish Royal Opera. She remained a member of that company until her retirement. In her early years she focused on soubrette roles, including Mozart heroines. Soon she was branching out dramatically. Her debut at the prestigious Glyndebourne Festival in England came in 1957 as the Composer in Strauss’s “Ariadne auf Naxos,” and for years she remained a favorite with the festival. Among Strauss singers, she was one of the few to have sung all three lead roles in “Der Rosenkavalier,” as the Marschallin, Octavian and Sophie.

A milestone in her career came in the 1969-70 season with the Royal Opera at Covent Garden in London, when she sang Mélisande in an acclaimed production of Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande” conducted by Pierre Boulez, subsequently recorded. That Sony Classical recording, with George Shirley as Pelléas, is considered by many to be definitive.

Another series of landmark performances and recordings involved the Australian conductor Charles Mackerras, an informed champion of the Janacek operas. Ms. Soderstrom became Mr. Mackerras’s soprano of choice for his Decca label recordings of complete Janacek operas, including “Jenufa” and “Katya Kabanova,” with Ms. Soderstrom singing the title roles, and “The Makropulos Case,” a mysterious, haunting work in which Ms. Soderstrom portrayed, unforgettably, the 300-year-old Emilia Marty.

Among the many contemporary roles she sang were Elisabeth Zimmer in Hans Werner Henze’s “Elegy for Young Lovers” and Juliana Bordereau in Dominick Argento’s “Aspern Papers” for the premiere production in Dallas in 1988. She was also an active song recitalist.

Throughout her career, Ms. Soderstrom relied on the support of her husband, Sverker Olow, a retired Swedish naval officer, whom she married in 1950. Mr. Olow survives her, along with three sons, Malcolm, Peter and Jens Olow, and several grandchildren.

Ms. Soderstrom made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1959 as Susanna in Mozart’s “Figaro.” For the next five years, she made regular appearances at the Met, but then drifted mostly to Europe, returning in the 1980s for performances as the Marschallin in “Der Rosenkavalier” and the Countess in “Figaro.”

For her last Met performances, she came out of retirement, essentially, to sing the Countess in Tchaikovsky’s “Queen of Spades,” a dramatically complex and crucial role with scant vocal demands. She received an enormous ovation.


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