Remains found in search for Maleah Davis arrive in Houston for ID testing


Houston police detectives along with a search and rescue team headed to Arkansas on Friday to look for missing 4-year-old Maleah Davis after the man who had been watching her allegedly confessed to dumping her body.

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

The remains found in Arkansas during a search for 4-year-old Maleah Davis have arrived in Houston, where they will be tested to determine the identity and cause of death, police said.

Community activist Quanell X, who used to represent the young girl’s mother, told reporters that she is home.

“This has been a very, very, very rough day,” he said. “I just want to say to everybody here at the city of Houston and everybody around the world that has prayed for Maleah. She’s home.”

Earlier Friday, Houston police had said child remains found in a bag in southwest Arkansas may belong to Maleah.

Maleah was reported missing in early May by her mother’s former fiance, Derion Vence. He initially told police that Maleah had been abducted by a group of men — but investigators found signs of decay in his car and blood evidence in his apartment.

Vence was arrested and booked into the Harris County jail in May on suspicion of tampering with a human corpse, according to police.

What led police to Arkansas

The search for Maleah moved to Arkansas after Vence allegedly confessed to Quanell, who visited him in jail Friday, that he dumped Maleah’s body there.

“One thing he wanted to make clear to me was (that) what happened to Maleah was an accident, he says it was an accident. And he confessed to me where he dumped the body,” the activist told CNN affiliate KTRK.

Quanell said Vence told him he pulled over in Arkansas, got out of his car and dumped the body off the road.

Houston police detectives along with a search and rescue teams immediately headed to Arkansas. Houston police requested that local authorities begin searching near Hope, a town about 30 miles northeast of the Texas-Arkansas border.

A roadside mowing crew spotted a garbage bag emitting a foul odor near Hope, which contained the remains of a child, Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton told CNN affiliate KTAL.

A community mourns

Meanwhile, the Houston apartment the 4-year-old girl was last seen entering is filled with posters, unicorns and flowers. Almost everything is pink, her favorite color.

The home’s entrance is decorated with teddy bears, candles, posters signed by hundreds of neighbors and toys, CNN affiliate KTRK reported.

Mothers across the area visit the memorial, many holding back tears.

“Every time I walk out from my apartment what I see is where she used to live,” Jania Soto said. “It’s hard.”

A changing storyline

At the beginning of May, Vence told police he was driving with the young girl and his toddler son in the car when he heard a loud noise and pulled over. A group of men pulled up behind him, he said, and knocked him unconscious for nearly 24 hours. When he woke up, Vence claimed he was on the side of a road with his son, but Maleah was gone.

He said he walked to a nearby hospital, where he received treatment for his injuries and reported Maleah missing. But as detectives began collecting evidence, the man’s account began to fall apart.

Video shows Vence was dropped off at the hospital in the car he claims was stolen. Investigators also collected blood from his apartment that was “consistent’ with DNA taken from Maleah’s toothbrush.

Investigators also viewed footage captured from the porch of an apartment next to Vence’s, according to the affidavit.

The footage shows Maleah entering the apartment, but she never comes back out. Instead, Vence is seen leaving the apartment on May 3 carrying a large blue laundry basket with a black trash bag inside. He returned a few minutes later and walked out of the apartment carrying cleaning supplies, including bleach, according to court documents.

Suspect wouldn’t let Maleah’s father see her

Earlier this week, Maleah’s father said in court he tried to see his daughter hours before she was reported missing, but Vence wouldn’t allow it, CNN affiliate KTRK reported.

Craig Davis, the child’s father, and his sister went to the apartment where Maleah lived with Vence and her mother to check on the young girl, Davis said during a Wednesday court hearing.

Vence did not let them in, saying Maleah had the flu, and denied their request to see her as she was sleeping, Davis testified.

Efforts to reach Vence’s attorney have been unsuccessful.

Trademark and Copyright 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.


Latest News

More News