It’s been called a nightmare by previous inmates and “unsafe and unhealthy” by Senator John Whitmire. Apparently, the man suspected of involvement in the disappearance of 4-year-old Maleah Davis is currently housed in a jail that’s no picnic, even for the most hardened criminals.
Derion Vence, 26, is behind bars on tampering with evidence charges, in connection with little Maleah, who was last seen on April 30 via security footage in a Houston apartment complex where she lived with Vence, her mother, Brittany Bowens, and her siblings.
Vence didn’t report the little girl missing until May 4. He claimed three Hispanic men knocked him out on May 3, while he was looking at his car tires off of the side of the road in Sugar Land. When he woke up the following day, he was on the side of the road with this toddler son and Maleah was gone, according to what he told police.
— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) May 11, 2019
Authorities found holes in Vence’s story from the beginning. As they continued to investigate, they found the car he was driving at a parking lot in Missouri City, Texas. Cadaver dogs hit on possible human decomposition inside the trunk. They also found blood evidence inside the apartment that matched DNA obtained from Maleah’s toothbrush.
Shortly after, the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task detained Vence after finding him at a family member’s home in Sugar Land. He was arrested and booked into the Harris County jail on May 11.
Vence is housed on the sixth floor at the jail, which according to Chron, houses “some of the jail’s most dangerous inmates.” He’s currently at the “JA07” location, off of N. San Jacinto in downtown Houston. It’s one of the largest jails in the nation, housing over 9,000 inmates.
Like most other inmates, Vence is allowed one visitation per day on his assigned visitation days. He’s allowed 20 minutes to talk to his visitors, with the exception being his attorney, who has access to visit him at anytime for as long as necessary.
Visitation takes place in the lobby of the jail, but some inmates at the San Jacinto location also have the option of “off-site” visitation, at $5.99 per visitation. Off-site visitation allows inmates to talk to visitors who never have to leave home. Instead, they can talk via a webcam to the inmate.
While it’s unclear whether Vence has utilized the off-site visitation option, his brother, Joe Vence, visited him on site over the weekend. As he was walking from the jail, Joe Vence told local reporters that his brother was innocent. Joe also referred to his brother as a “good man.”
Vence has access to phones inside the pod he’s assigned to, but his calls are monitored and come with steep collect call fees. He has no access to his own television, but shares a single television unit in the dayroom of his cell block, with numerous other inmates.
The channel on the television is set by what the majority of the inmates agree on. When guards announce “lights outs,” the television must be turned off. Any disruption gets television privileges taken away from the entire cell block.
According to Houston Press, numerous inmates have complained about overcrowding and squalid conditions inside the jail, an issue that had been ongoing for at least a decade.
“Dirt like this gutter’s all over the floor — and feces, another man’s shit, on the floor,” inmate “Robert” told the outlet.
Other inmates said the showers had mildew, the smell was overwhelming, and at one point, the jail was so overcrowded that “kicking people in the head” was an easy way to wake someone up. The jail is currently working on its goals to decrease overcrowding.
Vence, along with most other inmates, eats in the cafeteria of the jail, located on the first floor. The food is substandard at best, typical of most jails, but the meals were reportedly so poor at the Harris County jail that in 2018, it failed a health inspection.
The jail was given 30 days to file a corrective action plan after an inspection report found that the jail had severe sanitation and food problems. Some inmates were living with ants and roaches freely scattering around. Most were eating food not up to health codes.
“Hot foods were not up to health codes (temperature) prior to the food being distributed to the inmate housing areas,” the inspection report read, according to KHOU. “Certain areas of each building were not being kept at an acceptable level of cleanliness.”
Harris County jail at one point had one of the “worst sexual assault rates in the country.”
Meanwhile, Maleah remains missing. A recent search in Rosharon, an area where Vence once worked as a mail carrier, has been suspended, at least for the time being, by the Texas Equusearch team. The search team scoured the area along the routes that Vence once traveled while delivering mail.
Texas Equusearch founder Tim Miller told CrimeOnline that around a year before Maleah disappeared, Vence told Bowens’ mother that the remote Rosharon area would be a good place to hide body.
Anyone with any information is urged to contact the Houston Police Department at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.
[Feature Photo: Maleah Davis/Handout]