Authorities in Texas believe Maleah Davis, the 4-year-old girl who’s been missing for three weeks now, was likely killed. Now they are pleading for the public’s help in locating her body.
“The evidence shows that we believe she’s been murdered,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo told reporters at a Thursday news conference, urging the public to “let’s bring this baby home, [for] a proper burial.”
“Without finding that body, there is a hole left out there,” Acevedo added. We want to give them the closure, of both charges and finding her body.”
Davis, 4, was reported missing earlier this month by her mother’s fiancé, Derion Vence, who’s currently a suspect in her disappearance. The young girl was last seen April 30 when surveillance video captured her entering the family’s Houston apartment with Vence, 26.
According to ABC 13, a neighbor’s surveillance also captured Vence leaving the couple’s apartment May 3 with his 1-year-old son and a black garbage bag in a laundry basket.
He would report Maleah missing several hours later.
The Texas man told police that he, his toddler son and little Maleah were abducted by three Latino men during an alleged carjacking on a Houston highway, during which he was knocked unconscious. Vence said he woke several hours later to find his son unharmed, but claimed the kidnappers had taken off with Maleah.
The girl’s mother, Brittany Bowens, was out of town for a funeral when he daughter disappeared.
At first, his story seemed truthful, but Vence was later named a suspect after investigators said story had changed “several times.” He’s currently jailed on a charge of tampering with evidence, namely a human corpse.
On Thursday, Acevedo said he believes Vence knows where Maleah’s body is but said he has been “uncooperative” with their investigation.
“You could drive a big rig right through the tales this guy has been telling,” Acevedo said, referring to Vence. “I can sit here and say we’re going to find her alive, but I’d be lying to you.”
Authorities arrested the former mail carrier earlier this month after they say traces of blood matching Maleah’s DNA was found inside the family’s apartment. Vence’s “stolen” car was later recovered in Missouri City, Texas, and authorities cadaver-sniffing dogs picked up the scent of human remains coming from the vehicle.
Last week, volunteers with Texas EquuSearch temporarily suspended their search for the young girl after their leads dried up. Crews had focused on a swampy, rural area of Rosharon, Texas, because Vence had once indicated to a family member that he would hide a body there.
“He actually said to his mother-in-law a year ago that, ‘Man, if I ever killed anybody, I’ve got some places down in Rosharon they’d never find the body,’” said Texas EquuSearch founder Tim Miller, who later confirmed the claims with Bowens.
The mother, who says she broke off her engagement to Vence shortly before her daughter disappeared, said she’s holding out hope that her child is still out there. However, police believe the chances of them finding her alive are slim.
Executive Assistant Chief Matt Slinkard said Thursday that authorities “are not receiving the level of cooperation we need from anyone involved at this point,” making their search that much harder.
Houston police are urging anyone who’s seen anything or has information on Maleah’s disappearance to come forward. Moreover, Acevedo implored the public to be on the lookout for clues like out-of-place soil in low-traffic areas, such as hiking trail and wooded areas.
“We’re hopeful that the public hasn’t forgotten about little Miss Davis, this little angel that went missing,” the police chief said. “We’re still calling for the public to think back on what they may have seen — any suspicious vehicle behavior, anything that they may know [to help] this case.”