Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo wants to bring 5-year-old Maleah Davis home. Although he doesn’t think she’s still alive, he’s pleading the community to help with any known information and tips, no matter how small.
“Maleah deserves to be found, be recovered and deserves a proper burial, and we need the community’s help,” Acevedo said during a Thursday morning press conference.
Acevedo said that the 26-year-old Derion Vence, the boyfriend of Maleah’s mother, likely knows where the little girl is, but he has refused to cooperate with police after telling a “tall tale” about her disappearance.
Earlier this month, Vence claimed Maleah was abducted by three Hispanic men on May 3. Vence said he stopped to look at the tires on his car in Sugar Land, when the unknown men pulled up in a blue truck and hit him over the head. Vence claimed he was in and out of consciousness until the next day. When he woke up, Maleah was gone.
It’s all a lie, according to police.
“We strongly believe he knows where she’s at and if he wanted to tell us, he would,” Acevedo said, adding that the suspect’s lies are so big “you could drive a big rig through it.”
Acevedo said he’s hopeful that the public hasn’t forgotten or given up on the case. He said Maleah was likely murdered, and he’s willing to donate his own money to Crime Stoppers, to double the already $5,000 reward in place for information that leads to Maleah.
“We’ll add another $5,000 for information that leads to finding her.”
— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) May 23, 2019
Maleah Davis: Timeline and Searches
Maleah’s mother, Brittany Bowens, reportedly left Texas for Massachusetts to attend a funeral.
At around 7:45 a.m. that morning, security footage at an apartment complex off of the 9800 block of South Kirkwood Drive, captured Maleah trailing behind Bowens’ boyfriend, Derion Vence, as they walked toward their apartment.
An hour later, security footage showed Vence walking away from the apartment complex alone. Maleah was not seen again.
Vence was spotted again on the same security camera at around 1:40 p.m., leaving the apartment complex with a large black garbage bag inside a laundry basket. Authorities said that judging by his walk and the way he held the basket, whatever was in it had to have been heavy.
Security footage captured Vence leaving the apartment again at around 6:47 p.m. with his toddler son. He may have been carrying a bottle of bleach.
Vence called police from the Methodist Hospital in Sugar Land after checking in around 11 p.m. He claimed he had been in an out of consciousness since the previous night, when three Hispanic males attacked him while he stopped to check out a “popping sound” coming the from tire of the car he drove, Bowens’ 2011 Nissan Altima. Vence claimed the car was also missing.
Vence said the men beat him up and abducted him, along with his son and Maleah, but later let him and his son go.
Vence claimed he passed out and woke up on the side of road with his 1-year-old son with him. He said he walked for miles until he reached the hospital. Meanwhile, a neighbor told Click 2 Houston that she saw Vence at his apartment on the same evening he claimed he was walking to the hospital.
“I looked at him and he went back into his apartment. And I looked at him, but he didn’t have a big bruise or anything at all,” Jania Soto said.
CrimeOnline spoke with Sugar Land police spokesman Doug Adolph, who confirmed that they interviewed Vence, and noticed from the beginning he kept changing his story.
“We responded to a call from a male at the hospital. He had fresh wounds but he changed his story several times. We canvassed the area and scanned surveillance footage, and learned the crime occurred in Houston, and sent over Houston homicide investigators.”
Despite investigators noticing inconsistencies in Vence’s story, they issued an AMBER Alert for Maleah at around 8 a.m.
Houston PD said they cannot comment on why Vence didn’t use a cell phone to call for help, or if he even had a cell phone with him at all.
During a news conference, Sgt. Mark Holbrook said he knew there were “a lot of blanks in that story.”
May 6: Texas Equusearch Steps In
Houston police called Texas Equusearch founder Tim Miller and asked for assistance in finding Maleah. Search volunteers walked through the wooded areas near Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport, along Eastex Freeway and Greens Road, where they utilized ATVS to search deep into the woods.
Other volunteers searched all area dumpsters in the vicinity but found nothing substantial. Regardless, Miller said they aimed to search “every single dumpster, just in case.”
May 8: Brazos River Search
Tim Miller used a helicopter to fly over the Brazos River, from the Gulf of Mexico across Highway 59. He didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.
May 9: Nissan Altima Found
The search for Maleah shifted to Missouri City, Texas, after a Metro driver spotted the alleged stolen Nissan Altima in plain sight, in a parking lot off of Highway 6 and Riverstone Boulevard, and contacted authorities immediately. The car appeared clean and “normal” and had one car seat inside. The vehicle is being towed to HPD headquarters, where a crime scene analyst will process it and do a thorough investigation.
Community activist, Quanell X, speaking on behalf of Bowens, claimed that Vence physically and sexually abused Maleah and even threatened Bowens when she once tried to take the little girl to the hospital. He also said Bowens “took off her engagement ring” prior to taking the flight to Massachusetts, after she allegedly caught Vence sending compromising photos to a man. Bowens supposedly refused to take Vence’s calls while she was out of state.
Authorities have not confirmed these allegations.
When asked why Bowens never came forward with the information earlier, Quanell said Bowens “did not want to believe” that Vence had anything to do with Maleah’s disappearance.
Police arrested Vence and on charges of suspicion of tampering with evidence, a human corpse. Further, the Houston police said that “blood evidence obtained from Vence’s apartment has been linked to Malea.” Using DNA from Maleahs’s toothbrush, investigators made a match to the blood found in the home.
Meanwhile, dogs picked up on human decomposition in the trunk of the Nissan Altima.
A Houston judge reduced Vence’s bond from $1 million to $45,000. Vence is still behind bars at the at the Harris County Jail. He was expected in court on Monday but the hearing has been postponed.
Outrage sparkes as Bowens stood outside of the courtroom with Quanell. Several people in the crowd demanded to know why she didn’t protect her daughter if she knew of previous abuse.
“You’re just as guilty as (Vence). She needs to be locked up along with him,” Tamisha Mendoza, cousin of Maleah’s biological father, Craig Davis, said, according to CBS Houston.
The search for made its way to a haunted house in Rosharon on Tuesday. Texas EquuSearch members and volunteers scoured through the Creepy Hollow Haunted House in Brazoria County and its surrounding areas, starting at around 10 a.m.
The search for Maleah continued at the Creepy Hollow Haunted House in Rosharon, in an area where Vence once worked as a mail carrier. Rosharon is around 33 miles south of Houston.
Tim Miller told CrimeOnline nothing substantial was found in the area. The search was suspended for the time being.
Tim Miller said that Texas Equusearch will continue to follow up on tips and do something daily to help find Maleah.
Anyone with information on Maleah Davis’ whereabouts is urged to contact HPD at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.
[Feature Photo: Maleah Davis/Handout]